Egypt’s partial lockdown, a measure taken to abate the spread of coronavirus, will be extended till 23 May, the last day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Cabinet Spokesman Nader Saad said on a talkshow with the TV hostess Lamis al-Hadidi.
As to questions widely raised by the public as to whether the lockdown will be lifted during Eid al-Fitr, the feast that celebrates the completion of Ramadan, Mr Saad said it was too early to predict. “It will certainly depend on the COVID-19 infection curve, and on public behaviour, especially if people continue to trifle with social distancing regulations,” he said. “Decisions can only be taken a day or two prior to the Eid.”
Mr Saad said that decisions will have to consider the viability of allowing internal tourism.
Convalescent plasma therapy
In its efforts to use the most recent protocols in the treatment of COVID-19, Egypt’s Health Minister Hala Zayed said that serious cases of COVID-19 are now being injected with plasma from recovered patients.
The therapy of convalescent plasma has been authorised for emergency use by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and has been used in the US, UK, and other places in the world. Plasma from recovered patients carry antibodies that fight coronavirus.
Health Ministry spokesperson Khaled Megahed said that the use of convalescent plasma treatment therapy started in Egypt late in April, with six plasma donors who had recovered from COVID-19. The plasma of three of them was found to qualify for the treatment, and was used to inject seriously ill patients. Mr Megahed said the Ministry of Health would be announcing the outcome of the application of that treatment.
Mr Megahed said that a large research team of the Ministry of Health has been taking part in the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) solidarity trial studies, among participants from 100 countries. In Egypt, he said, the studies are conducted in the quarantine hospitals. These studies, he said, focus on two aspects. The first is concerned with observation and monitoring, so that a global data base may be set up to help find better ways to deal with and treat the coronavirus. The second involves clinical tests on relevant drugs. He said that the Health Ministry is also working with WHO on studies on the genetic features of the virus.
Until Monday 4 May, Egypt’s reported COVID-19 cases reached 6813 including 1632 recovered and 436 dead. Partial lockdown is in place: schools, universities, churches, mosques, theatres, and all places that normally host gatherings are closed; people are required to self-isolate, practise social distancing, and work from home whenever possible.
WHO’s Egypt representative Jean Jabbour had earlier given in a Cairo press conference a brief timeline of coronavirus since it first appeared in China on the first of January 2020, was declared by WHO a health emergency of international concern on 29 January, was given the name COVID-19 on 11 February, and was announced a global pandemic on 11 March 2020.
In Egypt, Dr Jabbour said, the first COVID-19 case was diagnosed on 14 February. He applauded the transparency with which the Egyptian Presidency, Cabinet and Ministry of Health dealt with the matter, praising the healthcare measures taken by the State even long before COVID-19 broke out.
Once the outbreak of COVID-19 started in Egypt, Dr Jabbour said, rapid response teams were deployed in all Egyptian governorates to monitor cases which tested positive, and track those who mingled with them. He pointed out to the initiative of the Egyptian State to repatriate Egyptians stuck in Wuhan, and the measures adopted by Ministry of Health since then to test suspect cases, isolate them, treat them and track those who had mingled with them.
Further repatriation moves were carried out for Egyptians stuck in various spots in the world, and are still ongoing.
Dr Jabbour commended the cautionary measures and restrictions imposed by Egypt to abate the spread of the virus, as well as the quarantine and treatment protocols which were performed in close cooperation with and generous support by WHO. He said, however, that the relatively high death rate of 7.6 per cent of infections ought to be looked into. Also significant, he said, was the need to deal with the social stigma against patients and medical staff, which places an added burden on the health system.
5 May 2020