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Some medics say they're muzzled over Egypt's virus response

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 01:50s - Published
Some medics say they're muzzled over Egypt's virus response

Some medics say they're muzzled over Egypt's virus response

Some doctors have accused the Egyptian authorities of muzzling their criticism of the coronavirus response, saying while Egypt exports shipments of PPE, healthcare workers at home are doing without.

Lucy Fielder reports.

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Egyptian ophthalmologist Hany Bakr was arrested in April.

His lawyer says that Bakr was detained over over social media posts in which he said he was disgusted that Egypt was exporting masks and protective gear to Italy and China, while its healthcare workers went without.

Tweets from the Health Ministry have confirmed shipments to those countries.

Bakr is still detained, one of at least three doctors arrested after they spoke out on similar concerns.

They're accused of spreading fake news, misusing social media and joining, quote, a terrorist organisation, according to their lawyers.

Critical doctors have been accused by state media of links to the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

Authorities deny pressuring medical staff and say the government has handled coronavirus well.

The Interior Ministry didn't answer requests for comment on the arrests.

But nine doctors, lawyers and rights activists interviewed by Reuters believed the government was stifling criticism of its response.

About 11% of those infected in Egypt are healthcare workers, according to the World Health Organization.

Egypt's Health Ministry is investigating the death of a young doctor, Walid Yehiya, from the novel coronavirus, after his colleagues at a Cairo hospital threatened to resign en masse over the lack of protection.

Staff at another hospital in the city halted work awaiting tests after a run of infections, and the management threatened to report them to security.

Reuters also saw a Health Ministry memo threatening those who leaked info about coronavirus with legal questioning.

At least 500 people have been arrested for criticising the official response to the disease, according to the Arab Network for Human Rights.

Egypt has reported nearly 20,000 cases of the novel coronavirus, and just over 800 deaths.




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