Coronavirus in Egypt: Medical neglect and no transparency

The infection numbers of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Egypt have reached 865 and 58 deaths. However, the numbers are still low in comparison with other countries like the US, Italy, China and, Spain, yet there are many questions indicating that the Egyptian regime is hiding information about the real situation.

The death of doctor Al-Lawwah

On Monday the Ministry of Health mourned doctor Ahmed Abdo Al-Lawwah, professor of medical analysis at Al-Azhar University. The Ministry said that he died early on March 30 at the age of 57 after he was infected with COVID -19.

On Monday evening, the ministry released its daily statement concerning the infections and deaths of COVID -19 as usual, but the statement didn’t include the name of Al-Lawwah, just the case of a woman who had died.

This surprised the public and many newspapers and websites wondered why this had happened. Then, the spokesperson of the Ministry responded, saying that some cases haven’t been recorded immediately, and he emphasised that Egypt follows a specific mechanism handled by the assigned body to inform the Ministry of Health. He also emphasised the transparency of the ministry on COVID-19 infections and deaths.

The Ministry did not give any further explanation about a “specific mechanism” used to monitor and record cases. If such a mechanism cannot be used to record the death on the same day, how can it be used? Especially since it happened early on this day, according to the ministry’s statement.

The next day, the statement from the ministry declared the death of five people by COVID -19, without mentioning any details about their ages, governorates or whether Al-Lawwah was among them or not, as if it was a punishment for asking about the “specific mechanism” that the ministry follows.

Before Al-Lawwah’s death, two major generals from the army died from the virus. They were officially mourned by the armed forces, while the Ministry of Health hasn’t declared their death officially, and it’s unknown whether they are among the declared deaths or not.

There has been no official announcement about the map of infections across the country including specific details for governorates, cities, and districts, as is the case in other countries, as if it is a military secret. However, the government is still saying that it is acting with transparency.

Are the numbers realistic?

The Ministry of Health doesn’t regularly announce the number of tests performed. Last Saturday, Health Minister Hala Zayed said that thousands of tests have been performed since the appearance of the virus. The tests showed 536 positive cases while the rest were negative.

The declared number is as low as the countries that have succeeded in reducing the impact of the virus, such as Germany and South Korea. 

In Korea, thousands of tests are conducted every day, while Germany is conducting 500,000 tests every week. This contained the spread of the virus and reduced the number of deaths in Korea. It helped Germany estimate the real size of infection in Germany and provide the necessary health care which resulted in a huge reduction in deaths.

Esraa, daughter of the late doctor Ahmed Al-Lawwah, complained that the ministry refused to conduct the test for her brother and mother despite the fact that they were in contact with her late father.

She posted on her Facebook account, “Does this satisfy anyone? My mother and brother went to the fever hospital to conduct the COVID-19 test as they were in contact with father and me, but they refused to conduct the test alleging that there are no apparent symptoms, that’s how they return the favour.”

After they criticised the ministry, it has been announced that a medical team was sent to the Al-Lawwah house to conduct tests on the family.