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Sunday, 19 December 2021

Omicron lands in Egypt

Three Omicron cases were detected over the weekend, marking the variant’s first appearance in the country, according to the Health Ministry. The three cases were detected in people arriving from countries where the variant is already circulating, the statement reads. Two of the three cases are asymptomatic, while the third patient has shown only mild symptoms. All three are currently in isolation under medical supervision, while no further cases have been discovered among people they had come into contact with, the ministry said.

Don’t be surprised: Authorities (and basic science) previously said that it was only a matter of time until the variant made an appearance in Egypt. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus last week said Omicron had been reported in 77 countries and had probably already spread undetected to most other nations. The Health Ministry is encouraging citizens to continue to adhere to precautionary measures including mask-wearing and social distancing, and to get vaccinated if they haven’t already done so.

Good thing booster shots are rolling out: The Health Ministry began sending out text messages as of Friday to those eligible for booster shots, notifying them that they’re qualified, without requiring them to register, ministry spokesperson Hossam Abdel Ghaffar told Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 2:57). Eligible people — currently only medical staff and senior citizens with chronic medical conditions who completed their regular vaccine dose at least six months ago — will be contacted from the ministry’s current directory of people who signed up for the vaccine. Masaa DMC’s Injy Al Qadi (watch, runtime: 8:17) and Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal also had similar coverage (watch, runtime: 24:47).

Everybody above the age of 70 should immediately receive a booster shot to help guard against Omicron, regardless of how long it’s been since they got their first round of jabs or what their health condition is, Ashraf El Fiky, a medical officer at Washington-based clinical research organization Emmes, told Lamees (watch, runtime: 11:27).

A total of 53 mn jabs have been administered in Egypt to date, according to Abdel Ghaffar. Around 30% of those who have been vaccinated have received the full dosage of their jabs, the spokesperson told Lamees. University students are also around 95% vaccinated, he said (watch, runtime: 7:36).

We received 200k AstraZeneca vaccine doses from Hungary on Friday, pushing the total number of AstraZeneca jabs we’ve received from Hungary to 450k, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The Health Ministry reported 902 new covid-19 infections yesterday, down from 910 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 374,411 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 38 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 21,315.

Egypt wasn’t the only country to report its first cases of Omicron over the weekend: Qatar’s Health Ministry picked up its first four cases.

Already had covid, or even two jabs? It might not help protect you from Omicron: Risk of reinfection with the Omicron variant is 5.4 times greater than with the Delta variant, according to a new report from Imperial College London’s covid response team.

The weekend brought record covid case numbers for a number of countries/states:

PSA #1- Canada has dropped a widely criticized ban on direct travel from Egypt and nine other African countries and has imposed a covid-19 test requirements for people arriving from all destinations, the Globe and Mail reports.

PSA #2- All travelers to Greece now need to show on entry either a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours prior to arrival, or a rapid antigen test taken within 24 hours of arrival, national flag carrier EgyptAir said in a statement. The temporary measure applies for the holiday season, Reuters reported citing a government spokesperson, and follows similar restrictions announced by Italy last week amid the spread of Omicron.

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