Covid-19 infections in Egypt are back on the rise, experts have warned, as three of Cairo's largest hospitals have begun receiving severe cases.
The Health Ministry had ended its weekly Covid-19 update at the end of April, amid a drop in new daily infections and deaths.
Restrictions had also been eased, with Egypt’s ports of entry lifting all coronavirus measures in June — including requirements for masks to be worn and for negative PCR tests.
But Dr Mohamed Tag El Din, a prominent health adviser to President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, told a TV phone-in on Friday night that the country is witnessing a rise in coronavirus infections.
Dr Tag El Din said this was Egypt’s sixth wave of Covid-19.
The most likely culprits behind the recent rise in infections worldwide are two offshoots of the Omicron variant, BA.4 and BA.5, the World Health Organisation has said.
Health professionals say both variants have fuelled a 30 per cent surge in infections over the past two weeks.
These two sub-variants — particularly BA.5 — have become the dominant Covid-19 strains in the US, where they accounted for over 65 per cent of infections recorded over the past fortnight.
Despite the surge in infections, Egypt’s Health Ministry said on Saturday that there is no cause for concern, since most of the recently recorded infections are mild and only require home isolation for five days.
It had been reported that the Health Ministry has converted three Cairo hospitals into full isolation facilities.
But Dr Tag El Din said that while three hospitals in Cairo have begun receiving severely ill Covid-19 patients, they had always been ready to do so and no “conversion” has taken place.
He added that the situation will be monitored over the next couple of weeks to see whether the need for larger isolation services arises, at which time the health ministry needs only 24 hours to convert a large hospital into a quarantine facility.
Though infections with BA.4 and BA.5 are similar to Omicron infections, in that they are mild and generally pass quickly, the new offshoots are causing slightly different symptoms than other variants, the Health Ministry said on Saturday.
The ministry posted a list of the most common symptoms caused by the new sub-variants. These include: throat infection, headache, dry cough and nasal congestion. The least common symptoms recorded are ear pain, loss of smell and difficulty breathing, said officials.
Dr Tag El Din advised that the public return to following more stringent preventive measures in public places.
He also urged the significant portion of the population who have not yet been vaccinated against Covid-19 to do so, and advised those who have been vaccinated to get booster shots.