CAIRO: Egypt is monitoring ports and airports to prevent any new COVID-19 variants entering the country, according to a health official.

Mohammed Awad Taj El-Din, adviser to the president for health and preventive affairs, said: “The peak of the third wave of the coronavirus has ended, and the number of infections and deaths is decreasing.

“We are in a period of practical relaxation, and we are taking advantage of this opportunity to support hospitals that need equipment, maintenance and supplies.”

However, since the coronavirus crisis has yet to end, precautionary and preventive measures must be taken “with all available means,” he added.

The health official’s comments come amid a push by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and the Egyptian government to step up the country’s vaccination program.

Under an agreement, Africa will receive 400 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine produced in South Africa, with Egypt getting 20 million doses, Taj El-Din said.

The vaccines were due to be administered in September, but intense negotiations launched by Egypt mean the country will get the jabs from July.

Taj El-Din said that only one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is needed and that its price has been reduced from $10 per dose to $7.50 following the talks.

“We will need to be revaccinated against coronavirus after six months, nine months at the most. We are studying whether the revaccination will be done twice or only once,” he said.

Meanwhile, Hala Zayed, the health minister, described the local production of the first 300,000 doses of Egyptian-made Sinovac vaccine as “a great victory.”

Zayed said that two factories affiliated with the Egyptian Holding Company for Biological Products and Vaccines have been opened, the first with a production capacity of 300,000 doses per day and an annual production capacity of 110 to 220 million doses.

The second factory will operate with a production capacity of 3 million daily doses and 1 billion annual doses, she said.

Egypt, together with experts from India and China, is working to equip the factory in order to export the jabs to Africa and the region.

According to government data, Egypt is witnessing a significant decrease in new cases, with 261 recorded on Tuesday, the lowest number since Nov. 16, 2020.

The latest figure marks a dramatic fall compared with the 376 cases recorded on Monday and brings the overall total to 281,031.

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