The Egyptian Medical Syndicate (EMS) has asked President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Health Minister Hala Zayed to change newly issued instructions for medical staff who have come into contact with coronavirus (COVID-19) cases.
In a letter on Wednesday, the EMS said that the Ministry of Health caused surprise by amending examinations and PCR test protocols for medical staff that have been in contact with the virus.
The syndicate has received many complaints from doctors regarding the publication of instructions by the General Directorate of Infection Prevention and Control on 12 May.
The new instructions indicate that when a medical worker has come into contact with a case, they are not entitled to a PCR test or allowed to isolate themselves. These steps will only take place if there is suspicion the healthcare professional is coronavirus positive.
The instructions also say that all medical staff and workers have to self-evaluate themselves then ask their places of work to conduct a medical examination. This will only take place if they are suspected to be positive, in which case they will have a PCR test and then be quarantined at home.
The EMS said that the new instructions blames medical workers for becoming infected with the coronavirus, as most infections among medical staff occur due to their close proximity with each other.
Having described them as “very dangerous”, the EMS has requested for the instructions to be changed. They highlighted that it means infected medical workers who are asymptomatic will be allowed to work and come into contact with others.
This could lead to the further spread of the coroanvirus among medical staff that in return will transmit the virus to their families and others.
“Instead of providing citizens with healthcare, the medical staff will become the source of infection and this will be a real medical catastrophe,” the EMS said.
The EMS called on Al-Sisi to provide medical staff with full protection as they are on the frontlines of the fight against the coronavirus. It also said that conducting PCR tests even for asymptomatic medical workers, is critical to detect new positive cases and to isolate them and prevent new infections among healthcare workers.
It noted that conducting PCR tests costs less than treating and quarantining new cases if the virus became widespread among medical staff.
Meanwhile, the EMS noted that it is mandatory for the Ministry of Health to purchase new PCR tests should there be a shortage, no matter their price. It noted that President Al-Sisi has allocated EGP 100bn towards fighting the coronavirus, with further funds coming through donations from the public.
Nine doctors and six nurses have died from the coronavirus so far, while 178 doctors have been infected, according to Ibrahim El-Zayat, an EMS council member.