Egypt may top one million coronavirus cases under hypothetical scenario – minister

Egypt could top 100,000 or even one million coronavirus cases under a governmental hypothetical scenario, the country’s higher education and scientific research minister Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar said on Monday.

“We may reach 100,000 or a million [cases]. All scenarios of epidemics in the world are possible, especially in a country of 105 million population,” Abdel-Ghaffar said in a televised statement.

“Thus, the rates of the spread [of the virus] and the rates of the increase in the numbers [of cases] are likely over a period of time,” the minister added, emphasising that preventive measures can help avoid an “undesired” spike in numbers.

To date, Egypt has to 26,384 confirmed cases of the virus, including 1,005 deaths.

Hisham El-Askary, a professor in earth science at Chapman University in the U.S., told the briefing that it is statistically “impossible to rule out that Egypt will not reach 50,000 cases.”

Abdel-Ghaffar and El-Askary, whose research team works with the Egyptian higher education ministry, shared their updates on projections presented by the minister last month.

On May 21, the minister said that the actual number of coronavirus infections in Egypt could be over 71,000 even though the health ministry had only reported 14,229 confirmed infections.

Those figures, according to Abdel-Ghaffar, were based on a hypothetical model that assumes that the official reported cases are fivefold lower than the actual numbers.

The minister said in his Monday’s remarks that based on that hypothetical model, Egypt may have more than 117,000 cases to date.

Abdel-Ghaffar explained that the new updates are taking into consideration all the changes that took place recently; since the statistical models used by the ministry are “dynamic” thus they are altered on a daily basis.

“On 4 or 5 June we will reach 30,000 cases, and it’s not implausible to reach 40,000 cases between 10 to 13 June,” he said.

The number of infections in Egypt is still surging exponentially in a horizontal manner, which means that the inflection point is still not in the horizon, El-Askary noted.

He said it is now scientifically “impossible to rule out that Egypt will not reach 50,000 cases.”

According to El-Askary, those models are based on the data collected by the health ministry, and they are used to predict the future number to predict the timing of the peak, and when the virus will recede. However, he explained that the predictions cannot be 100 percent accurate, but they are sufficient to mimic the future.

Abdel-Ghaffar said Egypt’s curve is yet to transfer into the bell-shaped curve which indicates that the outbreak is receding like the current curve in Italy which has a declining daily infection rate.

Egypt is still sustaining an R0 value, which indicates how contagious the virus is, of 1.4, meaning that every 10 infected people transmit the disease to 14 others, Abdel-Ghaffar said.

The ultimate goal is to have an R0value less than one, he added.

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