Editor’s note: The daily COVID-19 roundup is part of the Mada Morning Digest, our daily overview of what is making waves in the Arabic language press. If you want all the latest updates on COVID-19 and other leading stories — including coverage of the economy, foreign policy, Parliament, the judiciary, media and much more — to land in your mailbox each morning, subscribe for a free trial here.
Here are the latest figures on COVID-19 as of Monday, June 8:
- Plasma treatment is taking off as part of Egypt’s response to COVID-19, although controversy on Monday emerged around whether donors should be paid to give plasma.
- Health Minister Hala Zayed said Monday that the government has been working on creating a number of plasma production facilities since the start of the pandemic. Zayed said there are 12 plasma production facilities, six of which are 100% complete while the other six will be operational within two months.
- Dr. Awad Tag Eddin, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s special advisor for health, stated Monday that recovered patients should donate plasma for free and not expect any financial return.
- Al-Azhar announced that monetizing the plasma of patients who have recovered from COVID-19 is forbidden under Sharia.
- A source at the Abu Khalifa isolation hospital has revealed that well-known actress Ragaa al-Gedawi’s condition has improved after she received plasma treatment.
- Dr. Awad Tag Eddin also announced that Egypt has entered into discussions in order to receive 400 million doses of the Oxford University COVID-19 vaccine, which is to be released in September.
- Despite the Health Ministry’s issuing a pricing scheme for the private sector over a week ago, the challenge of enforcing the price caps continued to take up column space in Monday’s press.
- Health Minister Hala Zayed has called for more frequent inspections to be held at private hospitals, stressing the importance of patients over profit.
- Speaker of the House Ali Abdel Aal added his voice to those who have criticized private hospitals for charging COVID-19 patients exorbitant rates for treatment. Pointing out that emergency law gives the state powers to force private hospitals to abide by the ministry’s pricing scheme, Abdel Aal hoped the state would not need to do so.
- Outside of private hospitals:
- Head of North Sinai’s Health Directorate announced that 66 patients have been tested free of charge at the Arish General Hospital, out of concern for their financial situation. He added that the hospital routinely exempts people of limited financial means from the costs of testing and examination
- Outside of private hospitals, a Health Ministry official announced that 9,000 suspected COVID-19 cases have received the ministry’s home isolation kits to date, and are being treated at home.
- MP Ayman Aboul Ela, head of the Free Egyptians Party’s parliamentary group, brought up the issue of medical advertisements noting that the executive regulations of the on law medical products’ advertisements were yet to be issued. Speaker of the House Ali Abdel Aal backed him up, adding that “there are violations in the advertisements for some medical products.”
- And there seemed to be no further progress in assigning 2020’s cohort of at least 7,000 medical graduates to their residency placements, despite the pressing need for medical staffing.
- Medical graduates, who have refused to accept their assignments due to issues with the system, expressed their dismay at Zayed’s absence.
- A member of the Doctors’ Syndicate said on Monday that the meeting between syndicate reps and the ministry was generally “unproductive,” after Health Minister Hala Zayed’s no show.
Who cares for healthcare workers?
- With little progress in getting medical graduates into the workforce, news on Monday showed more of the medical workers who deal with COVID-19 day today had suffered infections, while seven doctors and two nurses were announced to have died
- The Doctors’ Syndicate announced the death of seven doctors. The positions of two were given: Mahmoud Khedr and George Attia, who had both tested positive for COVID-19. Khedr was head of surgery at the Egyptian Pediatrics Hospital, and Attia headed the Specialized Medical Centre in Zaytoun. The syndicate also reported the deaths of doctors Mahmoud al-Fouly, Hesham Abdel Hamid, Mohamed Abdel Hakim, Mohamed Hassan Omar and Nabil Khalifa
- The Health Affairs unit for Sharqiya announced that a nurse in the Hehia Central Hospital has died after testing positive for COVID-19.
- A nurse at Beni Suef Specialist Hospital has died of COVID-19. The nurse had been admitted to hospital after testing positive for COVID-19 five days ago
- Dr. Nada Abdel Moneim, a doctor who has tested positive for COVID-19 at the Port Said Health Insurance Hospital, has demanded she be transferred to the Abou Khalifa Isolation Hospital. Abdel Moneim added that she should be transferred to the hospital because she is from Ismailia and she was infected while on work placement in Port Said.
- After claims that staff infected with COVID-19 at the Abbasiya Fever Hospital were forced to return to work just 10 days after their infection was confirmed, the hospital director Dr. Peter Waguih has denied the reports. Waguih said doctors are still in the middle of their 14-day home isolation period, and that they have not yet returned to work.
Coexisting with COVID-19
- News on Monday included updates on the blow that the pandemic has dealt to the economy, along with additional relief packages for health and tourism, and an ongoing push to enliven domestic tourism
- The Finance Ministry announced that LE63 billion of the LE100 billion earmarked to fund the COVID-19 response has gone toward the healthcare sector, and to support entities that have been adversely affected by the lockdown.
- LE130 billion has been lost from Egypt’s GDP as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Finance Ministry announced.
- The Finance Ministry also announced that the Health Ministry will get another LE8 billion bump to help the ongoing response.
- State revenues continue to take a hit, with rent relief granted Tuesday to small business owners in the tourism sector, such as bazaars, cafeterias and museum
- 155 hotels have now got health and safety clearance from the Tourism Ministry to start receiving Egyptian tourists, with a cap on the numbers of guests and staff intended to limit the danger of spreading COVID-19.
- With the tourism sector still under duress due to the lack of global travel, the Tourism Establishments Chamber at the FEI has called on companies in the sector to prioritize their workers and to wait out the crisis with patience. He also called on the government to help tourism companies pay workers’ salaries.
- Speaker of the House Ali Abdel Aal made another call for getting things back to normal in Egypt, stating that people must learn to coexist with COVID-19 and that “one day” it will be “just like the flu.”
Working with COVID-19
- Even as officials make efforts to get tourist companies working again, news on Monday showed COVID-19 continuing to affect those who have continued work throughout Egypt’s partial lockdown.
- A source at The Egyptian Company for Metro Management and Operation stated that four employees, three of whom were train drivers, have died of COVID-19. The source added that 32 employees in various departments of the company have also tested positive for the virus.
- An employee who managed the cafeteria at the CBC television building has died after contracting COVID-19.
- The Pharmacists’ Syndicate in Qena announced the creation of a joint COVID-19 fund to contribute to the treatment of any members who are infected with the virus. Members are required to pay LE200 to be included in the fund.