A group of Egyptian doctors have established a first of its kind online hospital offering medical consultations and follow-ups for coronavirus (COVID-19) patients with mild symptoms.
“Ahalyna Corona Care“ is a medical initiative involving 170 volunteer doctors, some of whom work at quarantine hospitals, providing patients self-isolating at home with online medical care.
The initiative began with a limited number of healthcare workers, before expanding after physicians of different specialisations expressed their desire to volunteer.
Paediatrician Hani Abdul Hamid, one of the doctors who contributed to launching the initiative, told Daily News Egypt they were initially a group of six or seven doctors who were following up on cases among relatives and acquaintances.
They later decided to expand the scope of their medical consultations after the Ministry of Health announced that cases showing minor symptoms could be quarantined at home.
He added that his colleague Dr Sherif El-Metwally suggested establishing an online hospital to unify their efforts, and to allow more patients to benefit from their consultations.
On the first day of Eid Al-Fitr, El-Metwally created a Facebook page for the initiative and began to speak with other doctors to find volunteers, Abdul Hamid said.
He added that a team was formed to receives online messages and ask cases about their conditions via the page, before referring them to doctors of various specialisations, including intensive care, chest medicine, and cardiology. He noted that during the third day of the Eid Al-Fitr holiday, they were receiving between 50 and 60 messages a minute, but the number of messages has since declined.
The referred patients then talk to doctors who follow their cases, with almost 80% of the cases are going into recovery. Only around 5-10% of cases see their symptoms become severe, with doctors working for the initiative usually advising them to head to a fever hospital or call Egypt’s coronavirus hotline 105.
Abdul Hamid said that there is no direct cooperation with the Ministry of Health, but they prescribe the ministry’s COVID-19 treatment protocol for those quarantined at home.
He stressed that the doctors on the page do not prescribe medicine for patients, who have already undergone medical testing and received medicines.
“Doctors follow up with around 88 cases, with doctors usually very quick to respond,” Abdul Hamid said. “We do this out of our social responsibility, as this is our duty.”
Rasha, a 40-year-old teacher who asked to be introduced by her first name, is one of the patients who resorted to Ahalyna Corona Care after suspecting she had the virus.
As an asthmatic, Rasha had initially headed to a clinic where she was diagnosed with bronchitis.
“I asked the doctor if I have coronavirus and he said maybe,” she said.
After possible coronavirus symptoms continued, and fearing that she would have to head to a fever hospital, Rasha sought help from Ahalyna Corona Care.
“I owe Dr Hani Abdul Hamid my recovery, as he followed up on my case until I got better,” Rasha told Daily News Egypt.
Earlier in May, the Ministry of Health said that coronavirus cases with minor symptoms will be quarantined at home. It published the protocol and instructions for home self-isolation.
Bags with preventive supplies, face masks, disinfectant, thermometers, and medicines of Egypt’s treatment protocol for the coronavirus, alongside follow-up cards, have been distributed to coronavirus patients self-isolating at home.