Egypt aims to vaccinate half its population by end of 2021

Expansion of the country's vaccine drive seeks to immunise 500,000 people every day

Mass immunisation venues will help Egypt persue its goal of vaccinating half of the population by the end of the year. EPA 
Mass immunisation venues will help Egypt persue its goal of vaccinating half of the population by the end of the year. EPA 

Egypt announced plans to vaccinate half of its population by the end of 2021 by raising the rate of inoculations to 500,000 a day, a government representative said on Monday.

After a four-week period of shorter working hours for Egypt’s businesses instated before the Eid Al Fitr holiday, hours were re-extended on Tuesday after a marked improvement in the course of the pandemic, said Cabinet spokesman Nader Saad during a round of televised phone-in interviews on Egyptian television.

Mr Saad said new Covid-19 case numbers declined in recent weeks, which he attributed to the increase in nationwide vaccinations.

More than 2.1 million people have received their first jab since the launch of the vaccine programme, with about 325,000 receiving both doses, Mr Saad said.

“The recent surge in inoculations is due to a growing number of Egyptians changing their mind and being more open to the idea of being vaccinated. We have also seen a rise in online registrations for taking the vaccine," Mr Saad said.

Mobile vaccination units are stationed outside post offices all over Egypt to immunise elderly citizens who have to go there every month to cash their pension cheques.

The health ministry, however, is wary of the recent improvements in the epidemiological situation, saying that they have been recorded in the past only for things to deteriorate again when people get complacent and flout Covid-19 preventive measures.

“While we have decided to ease the restricted working hours that were put in place over the past month, we have also doubled the fines and reprimands we are taking against anyone who flouts preventive measures,” Mr Saad said.

The harsher reprimands include a fine of 4,000 Egyptian pounds ($255) for any businesses that stay open past their state-mandated closing times, in addition to two weeks of closure for first-time offenders (previously one week), and one month for repeat offenders (previously two weeks).

Health Minister Hala Zayed announced on Sunday that 403 vaccination centres had been opened nationwide, as well as several mobile vaccination units that will immunise those with disabilities that prevent them from going to vaccination centres.

She revealed that Egypt is currently vaccinating 110,000 people per day, a number which should rise to about half a million by the end of June as more vaccination centres open nationwide.

Mr Saad said that the government, which is currently manufacturing its own doses of the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine, expects to produce 3 million doses of the jab in June alone.

Mr Saad also announced that teachers and university professors, particularly those directly supervising student examinations, will be among the first to be vaccinated in the coming period because of their close contact with young people.

All hotel employees in the Red Sea resort cities of Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh, two of the country’s most important tourist hotspots, have been vaccinated, Ms Zayed said, with plans to vaccinate those working at other tourism establishments in both cities soon.

Updated: June 2, 2021 01:57 PM

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