by Hani al-Gamal – Cairo
Egyptian health authorities are taking a series of measures to cope with a surge in the number of Covid-19 infections registered around the nation, amid fears of a second wave of the disease.
A total of 342 people tested positive to the coronavirus on 19 November. Thirteen virus sufferers also died on the same day, the Ministry of Health said. The new cases bring the total number of Covid-19 infections up to 101,564 since the first case was reported in March this year. The new deaths also bring overall coronavirus fatalities up to 6,508.
Health authorities expect the daily infections and fatalities to keep rising during the winter season which has officially started in Egypt. The lack of abidance by preventive measures raises, meanwhile, fears about a leap in infections and deaths in the coming days. Health Ministry Spokesman Khalid Megahid said his ministry follows the situation closely in order to take the measures necessary to keep the disease at bay. He told MedyaNews that the Ministry of Health had already launched a number of channels to increase communication with members of the public.
Egyptian authorities have taken a number of measures to reduce infections, including by reducing density at government offices. They have asked female civil servants and men suffering chronic illnesses to work from home. The government also made the wearing of facemasks mandatory at government offices, on public transport and inside shopping malls and grocery stores. The measures also included the closure of tens of thousands of cafés around Egypt, workshops and barbers’ shops. They restricted the activities of restaurants to delivery services.
This has left a bitter taste in the mouths of ordinary people, especially craftsmen. The same people are afraid that increasing infections will lead to another lockdown. “The lockdown affected all commercial activities very negatively”, said craftsman Tarek Haroun. Haroun is a regular visitor to coffee shops in Egypt’s capital Cairo. He says he is afraid that a rise in infections will deprive him of the time he spends at the coffee shop. “People like to spend their time in the coffee shops”, Haroun said.
Egyptian scientists are, meanwhile, racing against time to prevent Covid-19 from having a huge toll on their country, both at the human and the financial levels. They are developing an anti-coronavirus vaccine. The vaccine is going through a series of clinical trials and health authorities expect it to be ready for use next year.
“Trials on the new vaccine show very promising results”, said Dr Mustafa Mohamadi, a senior Ministry of Health official. He said health specialists are putting volunteers who had been injected with the new vaccine under close observation in order to see whether it has any side effects. Egypt also says it had agreed with American multinational pharmaceutical corporation, Pfizer, to get a share of its new vaccine.