Egypt has conducted over 100,000 PCR medical tests since the beginning of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, according to Dr Nancy El-Guindy, Director of the Central Public Health Laboratories (CPHL). She revealed that more than 2,000 PCR tests are conducted daily.
El-Guindy added that about 1,300 of those tests are being conducted at the central labs in Cairo. She noted that the CPHL has the capacity to conduct over 4,000 tests per day.
She added that the figures do not include the number of tests conducted for active coronavirus cases at isolation hospitals who are tested every 48 hours until their results show negative twice in a row.
El-Guindy added that the PCR test takes about 4 to 5 hours, with results released within 24 hours of the test. El-Guindy said that the Ministry of Health is now evaluating a new rapid PCR detection kit that speeds up the testing process.
Minister of Health Hala Zayed directed that results should be released within 12 hours, although some delays could occur due to the high number of cases or due to potential technical issues.
In addition to the CPHL, Egypt has 28 laboratories conducting PCR testing. The Ministry of Health has raised the capacity of 10 of these labs to conduct more than 100 tests.
El-Guindy advised citizens not to go for PCR testing before visiting a hospital and conducting chest x-rays and blood analysis, in accordance with World Health Organization (WHO) criteria. She called for citizens to wear face masks to limit the spread of the infections.
“We are not sure if asymptomatic patients with COVID-19 can transmit the infection or not,” she said.
The work at the CPHL and its affiliated laboratories and facilities across the country implements high level of precautions and protective measures to secure the safety of all their workers.
Workers in the virology department are the most vulnerable to contract the infection so they have tighter precautions and are fully protected, El-Guindy said.
“The COVID-19 virus is similar to influenza, but its main problem is that, until now, the spread has been quick and there are no vaccines. So we need to coexist with the disease whilst taking our protective measures,” she noted. “Egypt’s death rate due to the pandemic has declined from 7% to about 5% of the total infections, which is still below the international rate.”