Egyptian doctors call for more facilities to handle pandemic

People are pictured wearing protective face masks, amid concerns over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Cairo, Egypt. (Reuters)
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Updated 26 May 2020

Egyptian doctors call for more facilities to handle pandemic

  • The virus has infected more than 350 members of Egypt’s medical staff. The number of doctors who have lost their lives to the virus has risen to 19

CAIRO: The Egyptian Doctors Syndicate said the Health Ministry failed to provide its members with the proper protection to ensure their safety while caring for patients with COVID-19.

Doctors in Egypt have expressed anger over the lack of medical supplies and tests for the virus.

The country mourned the passing away of four doctors on Sunday, which coincided with the first day of Eid Al-Fitr.

Their deaths were met with the resignation of several doctors, one of whom blamed “wilful negligence.”

As of Sunday, the ministry reported a total of 17,265 cases of coronavirus in Egypt and 764 deaths.

The virus has infected more than 350 members of Egypt’s medical staff. The number of doctors who have lost their lives to the virus has risen to 19. 

Doctors and nurses are not the only ones complaining about how health officials are handling the pandemic and the rising numbers of infections and deaths. 

“Back in March, the hotline was very responsive and it was very easy for me to be connected to a medical professional,” said a 32-year-old mother of three. 

“Now the hotline is dead. I called several times in May but I never got an answer. I believe the ministry is overwhelmed and can no longer handle the increasing numbers of cases.”

The ministry launched the hotline to help people who believed they might have contracted the virus. 

It says isolation hospitals are full and can no longer take in patients, yet it provided Egyptian actress Ragaa El-Geddawy with two rooms in one such hospital that was reportedly operating at full capacity. 

A colleague of Walid Yehya, a doctor who died from the virus, criticized the ministry for prioritizing those with money and fame over its own medical staff. 

Meanwhile, Egyptian Health Minister Hala Zayed directed officials to provide the best possible care to medical personnel.

“There is a complete floor in each isolation hospital with a capacity of 20 beds allocated for the affected medical staff,” she added.

The minister also stressed on providing psychological support to sick medical staff in isolation hospitals.

Tensions between Turkey, France pose threat to NATO alliance, warn experts

Updated 07 July 2020

Tensions between Turkey, France pose threat to NATO alliance, warn experts

  • Turkey ‘challenging’ international norms by breaking arms embargo on Libya, invading northern Syria, claims analyst

JEDDAH: Increasing tensions between France and Turkey were posing a threat to the cohesion of the NATO alliance, experts have warned.

Paris’ recent decision to suspend its involvement in the NATO Sea Guardian maritime security operation in the eastern Mediterranean following an incident between a French frigate and Turkish vessels, has highlighted the organization’s difficulties in maintaining order and harmony among its members.

Months of escalating dispute between France and Turkey came to a head on June 10, when Paris claimed that its La Fayette-class Frigate Courbet was targeted three times by Turkish Navy fire control radars while it was trying to approach a Tanzanian-flagged civilian cargo ship suspected of trafficking arms to Libya.

The cargo ship was under the escort of three Turkish vessels, but Ankara denied harassing the Courbet and demanded an apology from France for disclosing “improper information,” saying the ship in question had been carrying humanitarian aid.

The incident resulted in France pulling out of the NATO operation, partly aimed at enforcing a UN embargo on arms supplies to Libya, and accusing Turkey of importing extremists to Syria.

French President Emmanuel Macron said: “I think that it’s a historic and criminal responsibility for a country that claims to be a member of NATO. We have the right to expect more from Turkey than from Russia, given that it is a member of NATO.”

The classified report on the Courbet incident is expected to be discussed soon by member states of the alliance.

Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile system has also angered some NATO members over concerns it could undermine Western defense systems and led to Turkey’s expulsion from the alliance’s F-35 stealth fighter jet program.

Seth J. Frantzman, executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis, told Arab News: “NATO faces increasing challenges from its member state Turkey which behaves contrary to NATO’s mission and values.

“Turkey’s government has begun to violate international norms by breaking an arms embargo on the Libyan conflict and invading northern Syria, backing extremist groups, and bombing northern Iraq.

“Ankara has tried to strong-arm NATO into supporting it through threats to hold up a Baltic defense plan and also through threatening and insulting other NATO members.

“Turkey insinuated to the US that Turkey would brush US forces aside in Syria in 2019 if the US didn’t leave, it has escalated conflicts rather than reducing them, and threatened to send refugees to Greece while staking counter claims to the Mediterranean against Greek claims,” he added.

Frantzman pointed out that the controversy with France was a byproduct of this.

“NATO increasingly looks like it is being called upon to appease Ankara’s monthly crises that involve new military operations in several countries. Once a key and helpful ally of NATO, Turkey looks increasingly like it seeks to exploit its NATO membership, using it as a cover for military operations that undermine human rights, democracy, and international norms,” he said.

Turkey is seen as an important and strategic member of the military alliance. On its website, NATO says that all the organization’s decisions are made by consensus, following discussions and consultations among members. “When a ‘NATO decision’ is announced, it is therefore the expression of the collective will of all the sovereign states that are members of the alliance.”

However, recent disagreements within NATO led Macron to say that the alliance was “suffering brain death” over Turkey’s cross-border military offensive into northern Syria last year.

On Turkey’s unilateral behavior, Frantzman said: “This is part of a global rising authoritarian agenda but appears to be counter to the NATO mission that once ostensibly was about defending Western democracies from the Soviet totalitarian threat.

“This calls into question the overall NATO mission and whether NATO is now enabling Ankara’s authoritarian trend. NATO countries are generally afraid to challenge Turkey, thinking that without Turkey and with a US disinterested in global commitments, NATO would become a European club with an unclear future. For Russia that is good news as it supplies S-400 systems to Turkey, further eroding NATO,” he added.

Aaron Stein, director of research at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, felt NATO would be able to manage the spat between France and Turkey.

“Libya isn’t really a NATO issue. It is out of the area for the alliance. I see this more as a bilateral dispute between two rival powers in the Mediterranean.

“What I worry more about is how NATO members, including both Turkey and France, are letting these bilateral squabbles seep into the North Atlantic Council. They should keep their fights to themselves.”