Egypt’s main cancer treatment facility has 17 cases of the novel coronavirus among its medical staff, an educational institute said Saturday, sparking fears of exposure among vulnerable patients.
Cairo University, with which the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is affiliated, said in a statement Saturday that “17 doctors and nurses” at the NCI had contracted COVID-19.
The university said it would open an investigation “to determine whether there was any negligence” at the institute.
Earlier in the day, NCI director Hatem Abulkassem had told a private TV channel that three doctors and 12 nurses were infected.
Abulkassem said the facility would be sterilised and patients who were in contact with the medics would be tested, along with all staff members.
He said patient visits had been suspended in recent weeks.
“It is tough to trace where the first infection emerged as the majority of the (institute’s) medical personnel work in several other places,” Abulkassem added.
Last month, several Egyptian hospitals were closed for sterilisation after cases were detected there.
Egyptian authorities have officially reported 985 COVID-19 cases and 66 deaths.
The North African country, with a population of over 100 million, has imposed strict social distancing measures, including a night-time curfew, to reduce the risk of contagion, and several villages have been placed under quarantine.
Tourist and religious sites are shuttered, schools have been closed and air traffic halted.
Authorities have threatened penalties, including fines and imprisonment, for those caught disobeying confinement orders.