Egypt’s hospitals close, unable to deal with the spread of coronavirus

With the increasing spread of coronavirus in Egypt, many hospitals in Cairo, Alexandria, Giza, and Aswan continue to be closed down. Hospitals that were supposed to be castles to confront the virus are crumbling quickly. The National Cancer Institute was the first of these hospitals. Its Director Dr. Hatem Aboul Kasim announced that it was closed after discovering 26 infections among its doctors and nurses. Aboul Kasim said that the first infected case in the institute was due to a nurse who worked in another hospital which had a number of cases. The director of the institute said that there were many hospitals in Cairo with cases of coronavirus, but he did not mention which ones.

In Giza (west of Cairo), the Ministry of Health decided to close Al-Shorouk Hospital after a doctor working there was infected in the ICU. In a statement, Al-Shorouk Hospital said: “In coordination with the Ministry of Health, it was decided to temporarily close the hospital as a precautionary measure after examining the medical staff and confirming there is an infected doctor.” The hospital added that it had decided to sterilise the hospital completely in order to save the lives of citizens and the medical staff. Also in Giza, Dr. Emad Shenouda, director of Al-Salam Hospital in Mohandessin, said that the hospital was closed last Saturday night after two technicians working in the laboratory were infected. Shenouda added that the two infected cases were transferred to the designated quarantine hospital after the Ministry of Health was informed. Shenouda explained that the hospital has not received any coronavirus cases for treatment but a patient came to conduct a test and when it came back positive the hospital decided to test the technician who did the test and his colleague in the laboratory, who also tested positive.

In Alexandria, in the north of the country, the Ministry of Health decided to close the University of Alexandria Student Hospital after discovering a positive case. The source added that the positive case was transferred to the quarantine hospital in Ajami and the other five were transferred to the Alexandria Fever Hospital so they could be tested.

In the far south of the country the Governor of Aswan, Ashraf Ateya, revealed that work had stopped in the reception department of Aswan University Hospital after it was discovered that an infected woman had stayed in the hospital for 24 hours, before she died while being transferred to the quarantine hospital. Ateya stressed that the intensive care department will be closed and critical cases, especially cases of suspected coronavirus, will be transferred to the chest hospital. Ashraf Ateya said that this procedure will take place until all departments have been sterilised.

The increasing number of hospitals closing indicates that they were not prepared to face the novel coronavirus. Doctors say that the Egyptian Ministry of Health did not provide the necessary training for doctors to tackle the virus, nor did it provide sterilisation equipment. Hospitals in Egypt have switched from castles to combat the coronavirus to infection centres, and at least five hospitals have been closed within one week.