COVID-19 healthcare response to remain Egypt’s priority for 18-24 months: Official

Fatma Lotfi
6 Min Read

Egypt’s healthcare response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) will remain a priority for at least further 18-24 months, according to Mohamed Awad Tag El-Din, Presidential Adviser for Health and Prevention Affairs.

This comes as countries expand their testing and treatment capacities to find better methods of combating any further spread of the virus.

Tag El-Din’s remarks came during an AmCham Special Briefing and Discussion, entitled “Tackling COVID-19: Egypt’s Strategy Moving Forward”, which was held on Monday.

The Presidential Adviser said that Egypt has “very good experience” in handling the pandemic, based on several factors, including proper management, early intervention and trained medical professionals.

Tag El-Din said that there are many other factors and causes behind Egypt’s good management of the pandemic. He also said that Egypt started its efforts very early to curb the virus’ spread, once the government learned of confirmed cases inside the country.

This included establishing monitoring and surveillance of cases, and ensuring that all individuals entering Egypt were checked.

Tag El-Din said that one of the unique facilities available in Egypt are its 77 fever and chest hospitals, which he said played a major role during the pandemic, and were a backbone that supported the handling of cases.

Chest and Fever hospitals across Egypt have been allocated to serve as triage and referral hospitals since the pandemic’s arrival in Egypt, with the government allocating some of them as quarantine facilities. In May this year, the government expanded and allocated 376 further hospitals as treatment centres for COVID-19 cases. This came in addition to specialised quarantine hospitals that were allocated for moderate to very severe cases.  

Meanwhile, Tag El-Din said that Egypt “has many Respiratory Intensive Care units (ERS) in some fever hospitals, in many chest hospitals, in all university hospitals, and in most of the private hospitals”.

He added that the second main factor in Egypt’s strategy in managing the pandemic is its excellent infrastructure and trained medical professionals to manage patients with chronic respiratory failure.

“All of the general hospitals, university hospitals and some of the private hospitals are involved in the COVID-19 management strategy,” he said, “Believe me, at any moment during the peak of the pandemic, every patient in need of medical care was admitted to hospital, and every patient who was in need of mechanical ventilation was managed.”

Tag El-Din also spoke of Egypt’s COVID-19 treatment protocol, saying, “Egypt’s protocol was one of the early protocols that used prophylactic anticoagulation for moderate and severe cases, therapeutic anticoagulation for severe and critically ill patients.”

He said that Egypt currently has 72 clinical trials researching the best medications for the virus, and for new vaccines and antiviral medication under trial. 

“All of the antiviral medications which were used all over the world were also tried here in Egypt, and we have no deficiency of any drug, equipment, or protective machines,” he noted. 

Meanwhile, Tag El-Din highlighted that there is a decline in the number and severity of cases, just as there is also a decline in the number of the cases admitted to hospitals. There are also fewer cases in need of mechanical ventilation.

“If we compare the number of cases now to three months ago, the occupancy rate in intensive care units is about 20% compared to other months,” Tag El-Din noted. 

Tag El-Din noted that another cause that the severity of cases is not so high is that about 60% of Egypt’s population is under the age of 50.

He also referred to the EGP 100bn that President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi designated in March this year for the country’s COVID-19 response.

“A total of EGP 700bn went to the Ministry of Health, and EGP 300bn went to the Ministry of Higher Education for university hospitals,” Tag El-Din said, “All of the patients admitted to government, university, and military hospitals for treatment for complications related to the coronavirus, whether Egyptians or non-Egyptians, were treated free of charge,” Tag El-Din said. 

He added that Egypt has a share of the COVID-19 vaccine, adding that the priority will be for the most vulnerable groups, including healthcare workers.

In a different context, Tag El-Din highlighted the relations between Egypt,  AmCham and the US. He said that Egypt is a large market for US manufactured goods and services, with the North American country one of Egypt’s largest trading partners with a volume reaching about $9.6bn in 2019. 

Egypt has witnessed a slight uptick in daily recorded COVID-19 cases in recent days, following weeks of notable decline. 

The country has also ranked in 45th place worldwide, in terms of the number of its confirmed coronavirus cases. As of Sunday, Egypt has recorded a total number of 106,540 cases and 6,199 fatalities, with 98,903 recoveries.

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A journalist in DNE's politics section with more than six years of experience in print and digital journalism, focusing on local political issues, terrorism and human rights. She also writes features on women issues and culture.