Egypt’s Ministry of Health announced Monday that it would launch an investigation into the death of 32-year-old obstetrician Dr. Waleed Yehia Abdel Halim who worked at Cairo’s Mounira General Hospital, according to Ahram Online.
Abdel Halim was among three doctors who died of COVID-19 last Sunday, prompting outrage from the medical community as Egypt’s Doctors Syndicate issued a statement accusing the Ministry of Health of criminal negligence, adding that it will pursue those responsible to the fullest extent of the law.
بيان محترم من نقابة الأطباء بيحملوا فيه وزارة الصحة مسؤولية إزدياد حالات الإصابة ل ٣٥٠ طبيب و ١٩ متوفي
وبيتكلموا في ملاحقة قانونية بتهمة “القتل بالترك” في حق الأطباء اللي ماتوا من التقاعس في إجراءات التحاليل وتوفير وقاية مناسبة وأماكن للعزل أو الحماية
التضامن معاهم واجب pic.twitter.com/Qd9W1lQ7ul
— yasmen (@YASMEN_GAD) May 24, 2020
According to the syndicate’s statement, the Ministry of Health has withheld COVID-19 testing. The Medical Syndicate also accused the ministry of “obstinacy” in performing swab tests for healthcare workers who had come into contact with known COVID-19 cases.
Furthermore, the syndicate blamed the ministry for the slow response, saying healthcare workers who had contracted coronavirus weren’t accommodated in medical facilities in a timely manner. The syndicate has called on healthcare workers in Egypt to insist on receiving the training necessarily to deal with COVID-19 patients and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), as well as swab tests in case they display coronavirus symptoms or come into contact with carriers of the virus.
This comes amid reports of protective gear shortages and calls to allocate special medical facilities to treat infected healthcare workers, which Egypt’s Ministry of Health responded to by issuing orders to increase medical supplies at hospitals across the nation.
On Monday, Egypt’s Doctors Syndicate reported that healthcare professionals account for 19 deaths and 350 COVID-19 infections. These figures were disputed by the Ministry of Health, who reported 291 infections and 11 deaths among healthcare workers.
The controversy began after members of Abdel Halim’s family took to social media to mourn his death. ”Waleed’s state was deteriorating every second…each second could’ve made a difference if he had received the healthcare he deserved,” the deceased’s brother reportedly wrote on a Facebook post on Sunday.
Earlier today, the Ministry of Health reported 789 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases recorded in Egypt since the beginning of the pandemic to 18,756. The government agency also recorded 14 deaths today.