As Egyptians have been urged to stay home to curb the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), an initiative was launched by volunteering doctors to offer urgent medical consultations for residents in various governates without having to go for hospitals or clinics.
“Stay home and consult us,” is an endeavour launched by Yasser Zaki, consultant general surgeon at the Faculty of Medicine, Alexandria University as well as other doctors on a Facebook group last week. The group includes physicians of various medical specialities.
The endeavour has encouraged doctors from other governates such as Al Qalyubia, Kafr El-Sheikh, and Damietta to create similar Facebook groups.
It aims to reduce the burden on medical facilities and encourage Egyptians to stay home by offering only urgent consultations, according to the group Facebook banner. Doctors will not offer a final diagnosis or prescription without taking into consideration the history of the patient.
In televised remarks with dmc TV, Dr Zaki said that they launched the Facebook group last Friday and thought that it will only attract more than 500 people and 10 doctors, but he was surprised how viral their initiative went.
“The initiative encourages people to stay home. We contact people and tell them that we, doctors, will come to you virtually and answer your medical inquiries,” Zaki said.
Until the time of print, the group attracted more than 136,000 members on Facebook. Doctors have raced to introduce themselves to members; some offer their cell phone numbers.
Zaki said that the Facebook group also serves Egyptian expatriates who might also not able to go for doctors amid the coronavirus pandemic which hit more than 100 countries around the world.
Zaki revealed that the group attracted more than 400 doctors from different governates and even outside Egypt.
Earlier on Sunday, the Health Ministry announced 33 new coronavirus infections and four deaths, raising the country’s total to 327 including 14 fatalities. The ministry spokesperson said that the disease has spread into 24 governates across Egypt.
People have been asked to avoid going to hospitals if the case is not an emergency to allow doctors to deal with coronavirus cases.
Last week, the Egyptian Medical Syndicate (EMS) addressed President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi requesting an increase in the risk allowance for doctors, a demand the syndicate has been making for years. Egyptian doctors receive a meagre EGP 19 to EGP 30 in monthly infectious disease allowance.
Egypt has established quarantine hospitals to treat the coronavirus infections in several governates such as Al-Nujila in Marsa Matruh, Abu Khalifa in Ismailia, Esna in Luxor and El-Agamy in Alexandria.
In the meantime, the government has taken several strict measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, including suspending schools, flights, and a partial closure of all restaurants, cafes, casinos, nightclubs, and shopping malls from 7 pm to 6 am daily until 31 March. The decision excludes pharmacies, bakeries, and grocery stores.
It also shut down churches and mosques, urging people to stay home and commit to personal hygiene best practices and medical instructions.