Egyptian doctors are seeing increasing COVID-19 infections amongst them even as the government falls short on ensuring their safety.
As frontline workers against the coronavirus, Egypt’s ‘White Army’ of doctors are pleading for better protective gear. They are also working under the strain of reduced testing capabilities for both them and their patients.
Currently, doctors are in the same boat as patients who come in with symptoms; they are not tested and simply asked to go home and quarantine themselves. Earlier this month, the health ministry had admitted to a parliamentary committee the 30 or so quarantine wards were full and potentially infected people are being turned away. Many of these include medical staff.
As of now, Egypt has registered 14,229 cases of the coronavirus and 680 deaths. The World Health Organization has pointed out that 13% of those infected in Egypt are medical professionals. According to the Egyptian Doctors Syndicate, 95 doctors have been infected so far and 5 have died. They claim the infection among other medical staff may also be high. Several hospitals had to close down temporarily because of infection spreading among its staff.
Doctors say that the government doesn’t care about them as they no only have failed to provide adequate PPE kits to ensure their safety at work, but also continually denies them testing so that they can keep their families safe. The State Information Service recently said that the country had conducted more than 105,000 tests, much lesser than the “over a million tests” that a senior Egyptian official had claimed earlier.
Many feel that those who exhibited symptoms earlier are the “lucky” ones as they got access to treatment in the early days of the virus. Further, they decry Egypt’s apparent generosity in supplying PPEs to other countries when their own hospitals are running on an acute shortage of such equipment. Egypt sent medical aid including masks and PPE kits to the US, Italy and China as political gestures and in order to sweeten trade deals even as doctors back home are falling prey to the virus due to lack of proper infrastructure and equipment.