Amnesty International urged Egyptian authorities to stop a “campaign of harassment and intimidation” against health care workers who have been critical of the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Healthcare workers in Egypt have been complaining of a lack of protective equipment, testing and hospital beds for front-line doctors since the beginning of the pandemic.
“Instead of protecting front-line health care workers by addressing their legitimate concerns over their safety and livelihoods, the Egyptian authorities are handling the COVID-19 crisis with their usual repressive tactics,” Amnesty International said in a statement on Thursday.
Amnesty said it has documented the arbitrary detention of eight Egyptian health care workers, including six doctors and two pharmacists, who shared their health-related concerns on social media between March and June.
The London-based rights group also alleged that health care workers are facing other threats and administrative penalties.
“The campaign not only further undermines freedom of expression in the country, but also hamstrings the efforts of those tackling the heath crisis and puts their and others’ lives in danger,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty’s research and advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa
Overall, Egypt has officially recorded more than 49,000 cases of the coronavirus, including 1,850 deaths. But last month, an Egyptian official said the country might realistically have as many as 100,000 cases.
At least 68 health care workers have died of the virus and more than 400 have tested positive, according to the country’s doctors’ association.
In recent weeks the daily number of new cases in Egypt has often surpassed 1,000, and on Monday, the country recorded its highest daily death toll of 97 people,raising concerns the country’s health care system could soon become overwhelmed.
On Tuesday, Egypt’s Doctors’ Syndicate released a statement saying it had urged Egypt’s top prosecutor to release five physicians who were arrested for having expressed their frustration with the way the Health Ministry is handling the COVID-19 outbreak. (Source: Mainichi Japan)