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Covid-19 death toll among Egypt's doctors surpasses 500, syndicate says

Calls have been made for greater protections for doctors and an official mourning period for those that have died
Over 500 doctors have died from Covid-19 in Egypt since the beginning of the pandemic (EIPR)

Egypt’s Doctors’ Syndicate has announced that at least 500 doctors have died from Covid-19 in the country since the beginning of the pandemic over a year ago. 

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) called on Egypt to declare a period of mourning for the doctors who had lost their lives. 

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In a statement published on Monday, the EIPR said that the global pandemic had had far-reaching consequences, calling on the government to take urgent action in order to protect medical staff as the country faced another wave of cases. 

“The pandemic came under conditions that were not originally fair for workers in the health sector in Egypt, from severely poor wages, a health system that needs to be restructured and rebuilt,” the organisation said.

“Workers in the health sector have been subjected to security harassment and administrative abuse in some cases when they expressed their concern, declared their needs or criticised the government’s handling of the pandemic."

The EIPR also called on the government to accurately disclose the numbers of cases and deaths among all workers in the health sector, and provide their families with compensation. 

The number of Covid-19 infections and deaths is increasing daily in Egypt, raising fear across the country and instigating calls for stricter abidance of prevention measures. 

The EIPR stressed a number of demands to protect medical workers in Egypt, including transparency of information and vaccines for medical staff. 

'Major perils'

According to local media, Egypt’s medical syndicate sent five letters to the Ministry of Health in March demanding vaccinations for all medical personnel, but received no response. 

Last month, Health Minister Hala Zayed said in a press conference that while 115 doctors had died as a result of their work in hospitals, the other deaths were due to contracting the virus through social interactions and gatherings. 

The syndicate's secretary-general, Osama Abdel Hay, complained on 20 April about the slow pace of the immunisation of health-service workers and warned against "major perils".  

Health authorities also came under fire for the pace of public immunisation, which started in early March.  

Experts have said that official numbers of coronavirus cases only reflected a fraction of real cases, as PCR testing in Egypt had been relatively low and private tests were not included in government statistics. 

The real death toll from the virus was likely to be much higher than the official figures, with many victims of the disease dying at home, and many deaths not registered as caused by Covid-19.