The Egyptian Medical Syndicate (EMS) rebuked the Ministry of Health late on Sunday following the coronavirus (COVID-19)-related deaths of three doctors in one day.
The EMS revealed that a total of 19 doctors have so far died from the virus across Egypt, while 350 others have been infected.
During the first day of Eid Al-Fitr, the EMS mourned the deaths of Dr Mohammed Abdul-Basit Al-Jabri, a Fever Specialist at Imbaba Fever Hospital, Dr Ahmed Al-Nini, an obstetrician and gynaecologist from Banha, and Dr Walid Yahya Abdel Halim, a resident gynaecologist at Mounira Hospital.
A fourth doctor, Dr Mohammed Al-Banna, is also reported to have died from the coronavirus on the same day, according to several doctors via social media.
The death of Abdel Halim, 32, has sparked outrage among doctors and social media users, with two doctors resigning in protest.
Social media users circulated two resignation letters, one written by Mahmoud Tarek, a colleague of Abdel Halim’s. Tarek resigned from his work at Mounira Hospital and the Ministry of Health, objecting to the ministry’s handling of the situation for healthcare workers and the measures it has put in place for them.
Tarek said in his letter that the ministry left doctors to die “one after another”, without any protection, which he believed led to the death of his colleague. The second resignation came from Dr Khaled Nashat Zaki at Al Shorouk General Hospital.
In a separate incident, the collective resignation of doctors at Mounira Hospital has been published and circulated on social media. In the letter, the doctors said they submitted their resignation due to the Ministry of Health’s inflexibility in its dealings with healthcare staff during the ongoing battle against the coronavirus.
They added that the ministry has issued “arbitrary decisions” regarding PCR testing and quarantine measures for doctors, leading to the deaths of a total of 19, including their colleague Abdel Halim.
Dr Ashraf Shafi’a, director of the Al Mounira Hospital, said that he has “not officially received the collective resignation, and that the hospital is operating normally so far”, according to Al-Shorouk newspaper.
EMS council member, Kareem Mesbah, said that Abdel Halim was unable to find a place in which to quarantine, whilst he battled the illness.
“Any talk of compensation, wages, improving workplaces or other demands have no meaning,” Mesbah said in a Facebook post, adding, “Walid died during Eid Al-Fitr, leaving behind a 6-month child.”
The EMS said that the Ministry of Health has failed to protect doctors due to its refusal to conduct early tests to detect new cases. The syndicate also criticised the ministry for its intransigence in providing PCR tests to doctors treating coronavirus patients, and its inaction to quickly provide quarantine bays for infected doctors.
The EMS said the ministry should take full responsibility for the increase in deaths and infections among doctors because of its negligence and failure to protect healthcare workers.
The syndicate also said that it “will take all needed legal and syndicate procedures to protect the lives of its members, pledging to prosecute all involved in this omission”.
Meanwhile, the EMS renewed its calls for a quarantine hospital to be allocated for medical workers who have tested positive for the coronavirus. It warned that the healthcare system would totally collapse in case healthcare workers are neglected and ignored.
In response, the Ministry of Health’s Central Unit for Service Providers Affairs announced late on Sunday that the ministry is preparing a quarantine hospital for medical workers.
Earlier, the EMS demanded that the ministry’s new infection control protocol, dealing with medical staff in contact with COVID-19 cases, be changed. The syndicate called for medical workers to be provided with full protective gear, as they are on the frontline of the fight against the global pandemic.