President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has instructed mass testing for coronavirus (Covid-19) amongst medical staff and patients at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). All medics and patients who have visited or stayed in the institute in the last 14 days will be tested, according to a presidential statement on Sunday.
Al-Sisi has also ordered that all coronavirus infections be given full medical care, with immediate measures on quarantine and treatment to be put in place.
At least 17 doctors and nurses at the NCI tested positive for the coronavirus on Saturday, forcing the institute to temporally close for disinfection and tests. The NCI is affiliated with Cairo University, and treats hundreds of cancer patients every day. Around 600 nursing staff and 750 doctors work at the institute.
Cairo University spokesperson, Mahmoud Alam El-Din, said on Saturday that 60 patients currently staying at the NCI for treatment have tested negative for the coronavirus.
Alam El-Din added that the university asked the Ministry of Health for 1,000 coronavirus testing kits at Cairo University’s expense. The kits would be used to carry out tests on the NCI’s medical staff and patients. He added that 413 swabs were taken from workers at the NCI.
Cairo University is carrying out an administrative fact-finding investigation into how the 17 doctors and nurses at the NCI were infected. The investigation will look into any possible inadequacies.
Hossam Abdel Ghaffar, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of University Hospitals, said in televised statements on Saturday that 413 university hospitals have been put aside for coronavirus cases, He added that these hospitals include 35,000 beds.
The staff coronavirus infections at the NCI have sparked outrage due to the vulnerability of the patients seeking treatment at the institute. Several staff members at the institute have criticised the lack of adequate precautionary measures inside the NCI to prevent the infection.
Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, said on Saturday in televised statements that the investigation aims to zone in on “patient zero” who transmitted the virus at the NCI.
Dr Hatem Abu El-Kassem, director at the NCI, said on Friday that a male nurse had tested positive for the coronavirus a week ago and that he had been quarantined. Dr Abu El-Kassem added that all those who had come into contact with this nurse undergone tests, with and two further medics testing positive for the virus. He added that a patient also tested positive.
On Saturday, the Health Ministry reported 85 new coronavirus cases and 5 new deaths, bringing the country’s total to 1070 and 71 deaths.