Minister of Health Hala Zayed briefed Egypt’s Cabinet, on Wednesday, regarding the latest developments of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation in the country.

During the meeting, Zayed noted that a slight increase in the daily cases has recently taken place, and she called on citizens to adhere to the government-implemented social distancing measures.

She also discussed the expected scenarios if a second wave of infections takes place in Egypt, adding that this is necessarily linked to a false sense of security that the epidemic is over among citizens.

The minister said that this sense of safety pushes people not to adhere to precautionary measures such wearing masks and applying social distancing.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, who led the meeting, stressed that, with many Egyptians currently on summer holidays, the government will continue to implement precautionary measures against the coronavirus. He also warned that the recent noticeable increase in the number of infections should be a prompt for citizens to be more cautious.

At the same time, Madbouly stated that violators of state-imposed precautionary measures will be penalised. He added that such measures have been put in place to avoid a new wave of the epidemic, and a significant increase in the curve of infections and deaths, as has happened in some countries.

The Prime Minister also instructed that isolation hospitals continue their work and to receive patients, whilst providing the necessary medical service to them.

During the meeting, Zayed reviewed the measures which were taken in light of the recent resurgence of infections, to prepare for all possible scenarios. She asserted that finding a vaccine will not prevent the virus’ transmission, but will reduce the chances of the infection spreading. It will, she noted, also reduce the severity of symptoms should infection take place.

The minister explained that the required procedures also include the need for truck drivers to undertake PCR tests, as well as employees at Ministry of Health laboratories. She added that incoming travellers currently require a negative PCR test result for entry to Egypt.

Zayed also said that, as part of international coordination against the pandemic, a ministerial team was formed for the Eastern Mediterranean region, which is concerned with responding to the coronavirus. She added that a committee meeting had been held, including the countries of Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

The committee meeting took place to identify good practices to confront the virus, taking into account the circumstances of different countries. Zayed added that coordination is underway to determine priorities for joint action in the coming period, which includes determining the the virus’ impacts on basic health services.

It would also determine the most effective methods to mitigate lockdown measures while avoiding a surge in cases.

In the cabinet meeting, Zayed also presented the results of her meeting with China’s Ambassador to Egypt, Liao Liqiang. During the meeting, the two sides discussed the procedures for signing the cooperation agreement between the Holding Company for Biopharmaceuticals and Vaccines (Vacsera) and a Chinese company to manufacture a coronavirus vaccine. With the agreement to be signed in September, the vaccine’s development will take place under the auspices of the Egyptian and Chinese governments.

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