CAIRO: The Egyptian government will impose a curfew starting Wednesday from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. for two weeks. It will suspend all forms of transportation, public or private, during the same period as part of measures to fight the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly said in a press conference that the state’s plan to fight the virus started weeks ago. He said that people had not been adhering to government instructions to stay home, which had led to a surge of infections. He confirmed that there would be stricter measures imposed if the situation deteriorated.
By Tuesday, Egypt had registered 366 COVID-19 cases, including 19 deaths.
The government’s measures include closing all shops from 5 p.m. to 6 a.m., with total closure throughout Fridays and Saturdays. The decision does not include grocery stores, pharmacies, bakeries and supermarkets outside malls.
The government also announced suspending public services and government offices for two weeks except for health offices. It also announced that schools and universities will remain closed for two more weeks after the expiration date of the first suspension, which would have been on March 29.
The government extended the decision to cut down the number of employees going to work for 15 more days after the expiry of the first decision that was due on April 1.
Madbouly said that the decision excludes hospitals and medical centers and their staff.
He added that in accordance with the emergency law, anyone who violates the curfew and its relevant instructions will be fined 4,000 Egyptian pounds ($254) and that punishment could reach imprisonment.
Madbouly delivered a message to young people: “Don’t take things lightly. You could go out onto the streets carrying the virus and transmit it to families and harm them.”
He also called on the public to cut down movement across the country’s governorates and not to go out unless for emergencies.”
At the end of the press conference, Madbouly reaffirmed the importance of taking the measures seriously. He hailed medical staff in hospitals and the health sector for being at the frontline in fighting the virus.
“We are in a state of war,” he said. He said the government will provide all the necessary support for medical staff who, he added, are working under difficult conditions.
Minister of Information Osama Heikal said that those excluded from the curfew are journalists and doctors.
Heikal called on press institutions to cut down the number of employees going to work. He added that flights to Egypt could be suspended for two more weeks.
Kamal Amer, head of the National Security and Defense Committee in parliament, said it was “very important that the Egyptian people take countering the coronavirus seriously” and that the situation was “very dangerous.”
Amer said the political leadership and the government had taken all necessary precautionary measures “and we all have to support it,” adding that: “We have to carry out our duties to protect ourselves and our children and draw a lesson from what happened in Europe and other parts of the world.”
Amer stressed the importance of having confidence in all the state’s measures that they are “in the best interests of our country and our people.” He added that if other measures are taken, they would aim to achieve the same targets and underlined that it was important to believe that these measures are in the public’s interest.
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi posted on his official social media accounts that the government’s decisions are “extra precautionary measures to counter the surge of the coronavirus.”
El-Sisi said they were necessary measures to raise the level of protection against the spread of the virus and to minimise infections. He called on Egyptians to fully commit to them. He said that the state will firmly counter any attempts to violate the measures in accordance with the law.
El-Sisi said that he was “betting on the awareness of the great Egyptian people and their ability to counter crises and challenges in hard times,” adding: “May God preserve Egypt and its people.”