Amidst the global COVID-19 outbreak which has seen thousands of infections and deaths worldwide, and amidst growing concerns that the number of infected would rise exponentially in Egypt, the government has decided to open 13 governmental testing laboratories for those suspecting to be carriers of the virus across the nation.
As the number of confirmed cases edge closer to 200 – the latest statistics being 196 confirmed cases according to the Ministry of Health – the latter will open 13 initial laboratories to carry out the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, as per Al-Ahram.
The PCR test is used to detect low levels of viral infections, usually through a throat or nose swab, while a patient blood sample could reveal antibodies fighting the mutated virus.
In Egypt, the PCR test runs for 1,000 EGP ($US 63.5).
In a call with 105, Egyptian Streets was told that patients suspecting they might have the virus should maintain focus on the symptoms, namely a high temperature (above 38 degree celsius).
As more people become aware of the coronavirus outbreak, the Ministry of Health is taking emergency phone calls from citizens on its hotlines 105 and 15335. However, as many struggle to distinguish the deadly virus from the common flu, many have pointed out a lack of clarity as to the exact locations the PCR test can be carried out.
Moreover, photos and videos circulating on social media have highlighted crowds and frenzies at governmental testing centers.
The Situation in Egypt
Last week, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El Sisi called for the closures of schools and universities nationwide for a two week time period, in attempts to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
A nationwide decree was also issued in order to suspend any and all activities or events that may consist of large group gatherings. As such, performances, the opera, concerts, celebrations, cinema and workshops have been cancelled. Moreover, Egyptian authorities have warned against gatherings of over 100 individuals.
In the meanwhile, the government has deployed special armed forces to disinfect various public sites and areas across the country, namely governmental institutions, hotels, houses of worship and means of transportations, especially in cities in which positive cases have been reported to be high.
As of Wednesday, both coastal cities of Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh will be in a state of lockdown for two weeks.
In Alexandria, the Hilton hotel revealed that a foreign guest also tested positive for the virus. Although the Italian patient is now in quarantine, the rapid and haphazard appearance of positive cases in the country has prompted criticism on the tracking of the infection. It also draws speculation that the number of infected could be higher than estimated.
Since news of the outbreak spread worldwide, the Egyptian authorities have reiterated measures to monitor and prevent the spread of the virus in the country.
Egypt’s Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly announced that Egypt will be shutting down its airports and air travel starting from Thursday noon until March 31 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.