Egypt’s health ministry is accused by doctors of mishandling its coronavirus response, and blamed for medical workers’ deaths.
A doctor’s union said, 19 doctors have died of COVID-19 while more than 350 are infected.
Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab world, has so far reported 17,967 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 783 associated deaths.
The union said the deaths and infections among its members were the result of the health ministry “falling short” of doing its duty to protect them.
The union blamed a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and beds for sickened staff, and warned the system could “collapse”.
In response, Health Minister Hala Zayed said that since the start of the outbreak, the ministry had “ensured the allocation of a floor in every quarantine hospital with a 20-bed capacity to treat those infected among medical staff”.
Staffs were tested for the coronavirus upon entering and leaving hospitals, and there were “sufficient stocks” of personal protective equipment, she added.
Ms. Zayed also stated that 11 doctors had so far died, rather than 19.
The Egyptian health minister insisted sufficient protection had been offered and medics had received the “best possible care”.
“It is imperative to provide them with the necessary protection and rapid medical intervention for those who contract the disease,” Ms.Zayed added.
With the outbreak showing no sign of abating and quarantine hospitals running at capacity, the union warned that “the health system could completely collapse, leading to a catastrophe affecting the entire country if the health ministry’s negligence and lack of action towards medical staff is not rectified”.
The union’s warning came two days after the death of a 31-year-old doctor, Walid Yehia, who was unable to get a bed at a quarantine hospital in Cairo.
“His colleagues and I were with him, appealing for help, but there was zero response,” his brother, Ashraf Zalouk, wrote on Facebook.
Social media users contrasted Dr. Yehia’s treatment to what was given to the actress Ragaa al-Gadawy.
The 81-year-old was tested quickly for the virus and admitted to a quarantine hospital in the city of Ismailiya based on the personal recommendation of the health minister, news websites quoted her daughter Amira Mokhtar as saying.
Ms. Zayed has reportedly ordered an investigation into the death of Dr. Yehia and promised to take “all legal measures in case of any shortcomings”. (Source: BBC)