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Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Ahlan, Ramadan (restrictions) + Covax jab shipment today?

Here’s how our second pandemic Ramadan is going down: Prayers — including the evening Taraweeh prayers — will be permitted in all mosques across the country during the Holy Month, as long as preventive measures such as wearing face masks are followed, cabinet’s covid-19 crisis management committee decided yesterday. Taraweeh prayers, however, must be limited to half an hour, the statement says.

No charity tables: The committee decided to ban charity iftar tables (Mawa’ed Rahman) and large gatherings in indoor areas, including funerals and celebrations.

Reminder: Last Ramadan saw a steady climb in daily infections and infections, leading into the summer months.

Penalties and fines will be handed out, and mosques could be closed if the required preventive measures aren’t in place, cabinet spokesperson Nader Saad told Yahduth fi Misr’s Sherif Amer (watch, runtime: 3:56).

The first 854k doses of an 8.6 mn-shot order of AstraZeneca’s jab should be landing in Egypt today, courtesy of the Gavi / Covax initiative, Health Minister Hala Zayed said in a statement yesterday. The first shipment was previously expected to include a total of 5 mn doses. It remains unclear when we’ll be receiving the remainder of that batch, especially after Covax recently signaled delays in vaccine shipments during March and April as India temporarily suspended all exports of the jab as its own case tally soars.

As many as 4.5 mn doses will be available in “the coming period,” presidential health advisor Mohamed Awad Tag Eldin told Ala Masouleety’s Ahmed Moussa (watch, runtime: 10:03). Tag Eldin didn’t disclose any further details.

What we already know: China is set to send over another undisclosed number of Sinopharm jab doses as its third gift shipment in the next few days. This comes as a separate batch of the Sinopharm vaccine — which Egypt purchased from the vaccine maker — is also set to arrive within days. A total of 3 mn doses of the Sinopharm jab should have landed in Egypt by the end of May.

The Health Ministry reported 693 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 689 the day before. The ministry also reported 42 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 11,956. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 201,342 confirmed cases of covid-19.

The WHO looks like it’s going to revisit its investigation into the origin of covid-19 after more than a dozen countries criticised its latest report on the virus origin, which dismisses the lab-leak hypothesis. The World Health Organization’s chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said “this report is a very important beginning” and “is not the end,” in response to countries’ concerns that the report’s results were delayed and lacked access to complete data, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Asian countries are looking to Russia and China as an alternate source of covid-19 vaccines after India imposed temporary vaccine export restrictions to protect local supplies that will likely affect the COVAX program’s ability to meet its delivery targets, Reuters reports.

German authorities in Berlin and Munich have banned the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for under-60s, after 31 people who had received the vaccine developed rare brain blood clots, which in nine cases led to death, the Associated Press reports. The news comes as many Canadian provinces said they would follow federal guidance that they should suspend use of AstraZeneca’s jab in folks under the age of 55 even though exactly zero casts of blood clots have appeared there, CBC reports.

BioNTech is now aiming to produce 2.5 bn vaccine doses in 2021, up by around a quarter from the previous target as the company tries to scale up production to meet the huge global demand, Bloomberg reports. The company could still up production further, said CEO Ugur Sahin, who predicted a version of the shot that can be stored in regular refrigerators instead of sub-zero temperatures would be available within months.

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