Egypt’s medical union blamed the government for the rise in coronavirus infections and deaths among healthcare professionals, warning of a “complete collapse” of the country’s health system.

Citing growing frustration about a lack of protective equipment, testing and hospital beds for front-line doctors, the union on Monday described the Egyptian health ministry’s negligence as “a crime of killing by irresponsibility”.

The union reported 19 doctors have died and 350 contracted the virus, according to official figures, although testing of medical staff remains limited.

“The syndicate is warning that the health system could completely collapse, leading to a catastrophe affecting the entire country if the health ministry’s negligence and lack of action towards medical staff is not rectified,” the Egyptian Medical Syndicate (EMS) said in a statement.

“The EMS holds the health ministry entirely responsible for the mounting deaths and infections among doctors due to its negligence … that is tantamount to death through a dereliction of duty.”

Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country, has officially recorded 17,967 infections and 783 fatalities due to COVID-19.

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