CAIRO – Egypt's government will soon require public servants to have a vaccination certificate or show a weekly negative COVID-19 test before entering their workplaces. The mandate is an attempt to rapidly boost the country's vaccination rate of roughly 14% as it faces rising daily case numbers.
The new measures, announced late Sunday, will apply starting Nov. 15 to the country's some 6 million government employees. They also require members of the public to show proof of vaccination to enter government buildings starting Dec. 1.
Egypt's government hopes to encourage people to get vaccinations, as the country of over 100 million people has seen a rising daily number of cases in recent weeks.
President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi has said he hopes to vaccinate 30% to 35% of the population by the end of the year. Earlier this month, El-Sissi's health adviser Awad Taj el-Din said more than 14 million people have been fully vaccinated.
But the country has faced obstacles, including supply issues and some vaccine hesitancy.
Prosecutors earlier this month ordered the detention of three workers at the Health Ministry after more than 13,400 vaccine doses were found dumped into a canal in the southern province of Minya. The doses were part of 18,400 vaccine packages costing more than 5 million Egyptian pounds ($319,000) were discovered missing from storage in the city of Beni Mazar.
It was unclear why they were dumped, but the three workers, including a pharmacist, a driver and a warehouse director, face charges of committing damage to public property and embezzlement.
The government has stepped up efforts in recent weeks to vaccinate students, teachers and university and school workers.
Health Minister Hala Zayed said the government has secured more than 62 million shots of COVID-19 vaccine, with 7.8 million more expected to arrive this month.
Earlier this year, Egypt mandated vaccinations for workers at tourist sites and resorts on the Red Sea and elsewhere in efforts to revive its battered tourism sector.
Egypt has seen a slight surge in confirmed cases in recent weeks, with an average of 800 cases reported every day this month.
The Health Ministry registered 871 new cases and 44 fatalities on Sunday, bringing the tally to around 318,460 confirmed cases, including 17,970 deaths. However, the actual number of COVID-19 cases, like elsewhere in the world, are thought to be far higher, in part due to limited testing.