Spotlight: Egypt's anti-coronavirus efforts face more difficulties as confirmed cases top 1,000

Source: Xinhua| 2020-04-07 04:13:58|Editor: huaxia

CAIRO, April 6 (Xinhua) -- As confirmed coronavirus cases in Egypt exceeded 1,000, it would be more difficult for the medical authorities to control the spread of the lethal virus, Egyptian experts warned.

Egypt, a country with a population of 100 million, has so far confirmed 1,173 COVID-19 cases, including 78 deaths and 247 recoveries.

Health Minister Hala Zayed had repeatedly warned that Egypt would reach the third stage of the epidemic if the number of the cases reached 1,000.

Zayed also said surpassing 1,000 infections would make it difficult for the medical teams to monitor contacts with the confirmed cases, thus posing bigger risks.

The Health Ministry identified three stages of the coronavirus outbreak: the pre-epidemic stage, the spread stage, and the community transmission stage which means the authorities' inability to detect the source of the virus or to track its spread.

"Despite the difficulties and dangers the number poses, it is not necessary to move to the third stage or impose an all-out curfew," said Hani al-Nazer, former chief of the National Research Center, adding the government is still able to detect and track cases successfully.

Egypt started on March 25 a two-week nighttime curfew as a key part of the country's precautionary measures to curb the spread of the highly infectious virus.

Egypt has also suspended schools, universities and all classes, halted flights, closed entertainment places, stopped mass prayers in mosques and churches, and shut down museums and archeological sites to curb the pandemic.

"The climb of the coronavirus infections is moderate. We need to work to maintain this rate for the longest possible period," al-Nazer noted.

He expected that the rise in temperature in the coming period will help reduce the spread of the virus, which will subsequently help the medical authorities to control it.

Praising Egypt's "significant work" done against the coronavirus, the World Health Organization has highlighted the North African country's capacity to conduct up to 200,000 tests, saying it will work with Egypt's health authorities to enhance the isolation, quarantine and referral mechanisms, and scale up infection prevention and control practices to ensure that patients and health workers are protected.

Ashraf Oqba, professor of immunology at Ain Shams University, said Egypt is at the beginning of the third stage or the community transmission phase, after recording more than 1,000 infections.

The increase in infections will put more pressure on the health system, Oqba said, underlining the need for citizens to remain at home to help curb the spread of the virus.

"People have a role to play in helping the government contain the virus ... They can stay at home and follow the instructions of the government when they are out," he said, expecting the government to take stricter measures.