Dialogue – Ahmed Jumaa:
As long as Dr. Mohamed Abdel Fattah, head of the Central Department of Preventive Medicine at the Ministry of Health, confirms that the Corona virus “did not collect its papers and did not leave us, rather it will still be there.” Therefore, adherence to precautionary measures is the basis of avoiding increasing the number of infections again after weeks of stability.
In his interview with Masrawy, Abdel Fattah believes that the recent increase in the number of Corona injuries and deaths is “slight”, and we cannot judge it as a second wave, but it is an indication that we may enter into what European countries are going through from a new wave, and then that increase requires Intervene quickly, and urge citizens to adhere to their preventive measures.
He says that herd immunity has proven to be of no use in the Corona virus crisis, because it does not give permanent immunity against the disease, and in parallel he stresses that we will not reach “zero infections” in Corona, because it is a disease that will not disappear and has become one of the diseases contained in Egypt.
And to the text of the dialogue ..
* About 7 months have passed since we actually dealt with Corona … How do you see what we have come to so far?
The first announcement of the event, which was later known as “Covid 19”, was on January 7, when the National Health Committee in China announced that 41 cases of pneumonia of unknown source had occurred, and then they confirmed that it was an emerging virus from the Corona family, and the next day immediately Dr. Hala formed Zayed, the Minister of Health and Population, appointed a committee to manage the potential crisis at the time, and directed the update of the national plan to confront the pandemics of respiratory diseases, and this is what actually happened.
The first case of Corona in Egypt was on February 13, then the cases accelerated successively, reaching the top of the epidemic curve on June 24, when we recorded 1747 cases, then the cases began to decrease, reaching the stability that we witnessed throughout last August.
And any country in the world in order to deal with an epidemic must have national capabilities to contain any health event, and there are 13 national capacities required from every country in the world under the International Health Regulations Convention, on top of which is the early detection of cases through a strong surveillance system, and the presence of national public health laboratories. It is among the things of which we are known for its efficiency, infection control, handling and case management, communication during risks and health procedures at entry points.
* Have we implemented these measures well?
The procedures were more than wonderful, and we were reassured about our performance to the point that the Minister of Health asked the World Health Organization to send a team to assess the Egyptian capabilities in dealing with the pandemic, and this happened at the end of March, and the team fully praised these capabilities.
There is no country in the world that can contain disease alone as a government agency. The other side of the equation is societal participation, for any public health issue related to society will not complete its foundations and ways to confront it except when the institutional deal with community awareness is completed and participation in this event.
* Was the citizens ’treatment of the crisis appropriate to the gravity of the situation?
Personally, I was impressed by the societal role in the early weeks of the pandemic; Because we were better than the Europeans and the Americans in commitment and discipline, and we were able to reduce the number of injuries until the last day, the lowest number of cases was on August 22, we recorded 89 cases, but it is noticeable that the beginning of last week the numbers began to rise again.
* What is your analysis of the recent increase in numbers?
The increase is slight. We cannot judge it as a second wave or a large increase in cases, but it is an indication that we may enter into what European countries and other places are going through, and then this increase requires quick intervention.
State institutions have not completely relaxed the procedures, and we in the Ministry of Health still insist on completing the procedures with the utmost firmness, but the citizen’s eagerness has begun to decrease. What we have seen in the past is that 8 out of every 10 individuals wear masks and apply physical distancing, these procedures are no longer done to the same degree And there is a kind of indolence, and this is what made Dr. Mustafa Madbouly the Prime Minister personally intervene, and he talks about tightening procedures and imposing penalties for adherence to public health laws.
* Do you expect a second wave of Corona in Egypt?
The issue of the second wave has a lot of rumors, especially since all the restrictions imposed by the world on the movement of tourism, trade and aviation, and the closure of borders have been greatly eased; Because the world will not bear its continuation in this way, because the pace of life will not die, the wheel must return to rotation and return with the same efficiency, and this will only happen with the presence of community awareness and the application of precautionary controls applied to the fullest.
In the same direction, all the countries that opened their borders, led by Spain, Italy, South Korea and Japan, increased cases in them dramatically to the point that South Korea recorded a greater number of cases than it did in the first wave.
Hence, the second wave means simple cases as a result of easing the controls and procedures imposed by citizens in the first place, such as social distancing and wearing personal protective equipment, which explains the presence of a country with a higher number of injuries now.
* Is this related to the onset of winter and an increase in respiratory diseases?
The situation is currently stable, but the climate changes have a big factor, even though the Corona virus has not proven to be affected much by the heat, but climate change and weather fluctuations are intertwined with the activity of other respiratory diseases that may accompany Corona and may result in the same symptoms, and therefore the presence of these diseases with Corona is a great danger.
Consequently, the introduction of the winter season, the fluctuations of the autumn season and the dust, and the lack of social distancing, causing us to witness fears of an increase in the number of cases.
* Do respiratory diseases in winter affect the difficulty and danger of detecting Corona cases?
Corona affects many citizens without realizing it, and for some people it comes in a simple form that does not exceed a sore throat such as influenza, and as for a person’s infection with more than one virus, this undoubtedly affects the severity of cases.
How do we prepare for the second wave to avoid it?
There is the Supreme Committee for Corona Crisis Management in the Council of Ministers, and the Crisis Management Chamber in the Ministry of Health, to follow up all procedures for institutional dealing with the pandemic, which is applied more than the first, and the Minister of Health personally supervises the readiness of isolation, fever, chest, public and central hospitals, and we secure a great balance of tools Personal protection, medical supplies and drugs needed to deal with cases, as well as procedures for reviewing the efficiency of hospital intensive care departments, training doctors, and updating the protocol to deal with cases.
* Some blame the official authorities to deliver a false sense of reassurance about the Corona crisis … How do you see that?
The government and the Ministry of Health have dealt with the utmost transparency since the beginning of the crisis, and there was an announcement of the emergence of cases in coordination with the World Health Organization, and we are among the few countries in the region that are still doing this, and therefore we tell the facts.
If there is an important ability to deal with the pandemic, it is communicating the risks by raising the citizen’s awareness of the different level of awareness among the citizens, and thus the management of communication was done with utmost professionalism and part of it is transparency and credibility. The Egyptian citizen on his role in fighting the epidemic.
But we did not mention that Corona collected its papers and left Egypt, Corona is present and will continue to exist, and therefore the completed vaccine will not lead us to zero infections, but it immunizes society from the spread of infection. We told the citizens the truth and we will not hide anything.
Scientifically, can we reach zero Corona injuries?
There are no infectious diseases that are called “zero infections” except in some diseases that have been declared extinct from the world, which is smallpox. Even polio has not ended in the world, and although we do not have cases, we are keen to continue seasonal vaccinations.
The simplest example of this is the H1N1 pandemic, which was incorrectly identified in the media as swine flu, which occurred in 2009, and the vaccine was provided in 2010, and it became included in the seasonal flu for which a vaccine is taken, especially for groups at higher risk such as the elderly or people with chronic diseases And the medical team.
We could not say that the world has ended this pandemic, as it still exists and is recorded as single cases, and its pathological symptoms are simple and very sporadic and do not cause an epidemic because society is immune from it.
• Even with a vaccine, we will not reach “zero”?
There will still be a few cases, “one every day, one month, or two months”, but it is a disease that will not disappear and has become a contained disease and has no ability to cause an epidemic.
So will the herd immunity policy work with economic conquest?
Herd immunity has proven to be of no use because it does not give permanent immunity, and it is not like measles, the disease that as soon as you were infected you acquired immunity for life.
A few days ago, China announced that a citizen had been infected for the second time with Corona, and therefore we cannot rely on citizens being infected and not being infected after recovery, and who was injured at risk of infection again.
• Have we spotted recovering people from Corona again in Egypt?
In Egypt, we did not find any recovered patients infected with Corona.
• What is your evaluation of Egypt’s experience in dealing with the crisis and its distinctions or shortcomings?
Any scientific-based plan must be dynamic and capable of updating, renewing, adding or deleting in the light of the epidemiological situation, and updating or changing policies does not mean that the previous was a failure, and all aspects of the national plan to deal with Corona have proven their efficiency with the testimony of the World Health Organization, and the evidence for that The current situation is with low numbers of casualties.
Egypt was one of the countries that had a point of view in dealing with the new Corona, and we did not walk behind the world, but rather we carried out clinical trials and our own treatment protocol, which is periodically reviewed under the supervision of the Minister of Health.
Was it obligatory to completely close our activities … or was the partial closure more meritorious?
All countries that were completely closed have increased cases, and the balance that occurred in Egypt between tightening precautionary measures and closing some activities (partial closure) has proven its effectiveness, and the world learned this lesson from Egypt in dealing with Corona.
Total shutdown has not proven effective and what we have done has proven its efficiency in dealing with the situation. The decisions that were taken with the participation of all the concerned parties and collectively were taken by the government in full. All aspects of the citizen’s life were taken into consideration, and we only looked at society and the safety of the Egyptian citizen when considering all decisions.
What is new about Corona vaccines so far?
What I know is that 9 vaccines entered the third phase of trials, and just as Dr. Muhammad Awad Tajuddin, the President’s Health and Prevention advisor, said that we have reserved our share of the Oxford vaccine. Moderna is on its way to light, as is the Chinese and Russian vaccine, and what I want to point out is that the Ministry of Health, with the effort of Minister Hala Zayed and under the supervision of the Prime Minister, Egypt reserved its share of vaccines as soon as the first approved vaccine appeared.
* What are the priorities when distributing the vaccine in Egypt?
Priority in the beginning is for the most dangerous groups such as the elderly and people with chronic diseases such as heart, kidneys and liver, and the entire medical team
• Does the vaccine prevent infection with the virus completely?
Immunization or vaccination means that you give the person immunity against infection with the disease, because when the virus enters the body, it finds antibodies that recognize and fight it, and it does not make it a cause of disease, and it is a form of preventing disease, and it may help that the symptoms of the disease be light and not large.
When will the vaccine be available in Egypt?
It depends on the date of production and its appearance to the world, and many talk about a vaccine within the month of October. But I can’t say for sure.
• How do you confirm locally the safety and safety of the vaccine?
No vaccine will appear, it is circulated globally and it is not safe. The natural stages of developing, discovering, experimenting and manufacturing the vaccine take some time, but it is a luxury that we do not have at the time of the epidemic, and no country in the world will dare to export the vaccine without making sure of its effectiveness and safety, There is a review from the World Health Organization and requirements that the vaccine must pass.
And let me assure that no vaccine against Corona will be offered to the Egyptians unless it is 100% safe and effective.
Have the symptoms of Corona recently changed or decreased in severity?
They are the same basic signs and the first symptoms: sore throat, headache, high temperature, cracking in the body, loss of the sense of smell and taste, and there are some cases that have reported problems in the digestive system, whether vomiting or diarrhea, and so on, but the main signs of respiratory diseases remain accompanied by other symptoms in some The times.
• Do the patient have symptoms after recovering from Corona?
Corona is an emerging virus and has not been fully studied, and 6 months have not passed since the cases recovered and we cannot resolve it, and the controversy continues regarding it and there is talk about side effects after the Corona, but it has not been effectively proven so far by the World Health Organization.
How did you prepare for the return of more tourism activity?
Tourism is one of the important sources of income for the country, and thus its recovery was a priority for the government, especially in the tourist governorates such as South Sinai, the Red Sea and Matrouh, and work was done largely under the supervision of the Minister of Health until zero injuries were reached in these governorates.
We had a big challenge ahead of how tourism would return, implement the coexistence plan and the occupancy rate, and a tight plan was drawn up between the Ministries of Health and Tourism with an occupancy rate of no more than 50% and obligating all hotels to achieve special controls, including disinfection procedures, swimming pools, masks, personal hygiene tools, and the team’s commitment to health controls There is no guest without measuring the temperature, with the presence of a clinic in each hotel and the provision of a doctor over the 24 hours, with the allocation of hotel isolation rooms for any suspected case until confirmation and evaluation of the case, as well as examining those coming to Egypt and the presence of A certificate proving that you are free from infection with Corona.
What about your plan for returning schools?
The school return plan is under review in coordination between the Ministries of Health and Education, and will be within the framework of the coexistence plan.
Opening schools includes many procedures, including the procedure of spacing and space that is scheduled to be in a well-ventilated place and not in a classroom or hall and in two stages, and measuring the temperature of all students, teachers and workers upon entering the schools, and there must be a temporary isolation room inside The school and the follow-up of absenteeism rates among students, teachers, and meetings, and taking into account in sports activities not to include contact and ventilation activities for classes and educating students about the golden rules for preventing infection, and disinfecting bathrooms and entering procedures according to a plan that is satisfactorily done.
Reducing numbers and densities in schools will be achieved, class densities will not be as we used to see previously, and for our part we present all scenarios and the authority that makes the final decision is the Ministry of Education.