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Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Closing in on 800 new cases per day

The Health Ministry reported 788 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 718 the day before. The ministry also reported 37 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 7,167. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 127,601 confirmed cases of covid-19.

Setting up more quarantine facilities: Parts of Kasr Al Aini Hospital will be turned into a dedicated covid-19 quarantine area to accommodate the increase in cases, Masrawy reports. As of last week, around 60% of ICU beds were occupied and a third of ventilators at isolation facilities were in use.

There are currently some 1,450 Egyptian expats stuck in transit in the UAE, Turkey, and Oman on their way back to Kuwait, which has suspended all air travel for one week amid fears of a new, more transmissible strain of the virus, Emigration Minister Nabila Makram Ebeid said yesterday. The ministry is working with hotels and other agents to arrange for the travelers to find accommodation until the suspension is lifted, Ebeid told Masaa DMC’s Ramy Radwan (watch, runtime: 5:21).

Should we expect another repatriation campaign? Not just yet, Ebeid said. The ministry is “keeping an eye” on Egyptians who are facing difficulties coming home because of flight suspensions, but hasn’t yet made a decision to operate repatriation flights.

It will take two weeks until we know if the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine is effective against the new virus strain as the companies gather data from ongoing clinical trials, Sky News reports BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin as saying. A new vaccine, if necessary, could be manufactured within 6 weeks, said Sahin. The mutant virus is hitting parts of Europe after being discovered in the UK and is believed to be 70% more transmissible, but not necessarily more deadly.

Don’t panic yet: The BioNTech boss said there was a “relatively high” chance that the vaccine will be effective in combating the new strain, explaining that the new form of covid-19 shares 99% of the proteins with the previous iterations.

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