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Coronavirus: Health workers at Egypt's main cancer hospital test positive for virus

Cairo's National Cancer Institute to be partly closed for three days for sterilization after 17 staff found to have Covid-19
The institute in Cairo treats hundreds of cancer patients (File pic - AFP)

At least 17 health workers at Egypt's main cancer hospital in Cairo have been quarantined after testing positive for the coronavirus, officials said Saturday.

Dr Hatem Abu el-Kassem, director of the National Cancer Institute, said 12 nurses and three doctors had tested positive for Covid-19. 

Kassim said all other health workers at the facility, which is affiliated with Cairo University, would be tested. The university later said a total of 17 staff had tested positive. 

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The institute, which treats hundreds of cancer patients, will be partly closed for three days to be sterilized, with only the emergency ward remaining open.

Several doctors took to social media to criticise the institute's leadership for not taking restrictive measures earlier, the Associated Press reported.

Cairo University said it had begun an investigation into the measures taken by the institute to prevent the virus from spreading.

Critical week

The number of cases detected in Egypt jumped by more than 100 for the first time on Friday, bringing total infections to 985, the health ministry said.

The ministry said in a statement that 120 new cases had been discovered, and that eight new deaths had been recorded. That brought the total number of deaths to 66.

Egyptian officials have said that once the number of known infections surpasses 1,000, the task of tracing contacts and quarantining those affected would become harder.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly has said the next week will be critical in Egypt's efforts to contain the illness, Reuters reported.