CAIRO: With news changing every minute, social media users in Egypt are latching on to coronavirus developments with their special sense of humor.
As Egyptians spend their time quarantining at home, they are managing to escape boredom by scrutinizing some of the weirdest news stories across their media.
1 – One of the most trending topics this week was the visit by Egyptian Health Minister Hala Zayed to Italy, one of the nations worst hit by the global pandemic. Just like her trip to China, Zayed traveled to Italy to deliver medical aid to the Italians as requested by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. A move the Egyptian leader said would contribute “in lifting their burden during the current crisis.”
Images on April 5 showed Egyptian military planes carrying aid, including medicines and face masks. But Zayed herself stood out in those pictures as the only official not wearing a face mask, becoming a hot topic for Egyptians to pick on.
Later, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio posted a video on Facebook of him welcoming Zayed, during which he removed his mask resembling the Egyptian minister.
On a more serious note, Zayed was criticized by some for delivering aid to Italy when several hospitals at home have reported a shortage of medical supplies.
2 – Myths about how some foods are good for fighting COVID-19 have been going viral across the Middle East.
In Egypt, a doctor claimed that beans are effective in preventing the COVID-19 infection. Magdi Badran claimed in a televised interview that “homemade” beans would help.
In a similar incident, another doctor said that a 5,000-year-old Egyptian dish called “shalawlaw” is effective against the virus.
Magdi Nazih, Head of the Nutrition Education Division of Egypt’s National Institute of Nutrition, said the “shalawlaw” dish consists of dry molokhia, lots of garlic and lemon. And because it contains a large amount of garlic, it would strengthen the body's immunity, he claimed.
3 – Another food recommendation was made by Egyptian presenter Amani Al-Khayat to fight the virus.
Although not proven by anyone, Al-Khayat suggested Egyptians should drink a cup of tea during their daily diet, which would keep them protected from COVID-19.
The statement she made during her segment on news channel CBC Extra soon fell prey to mockery from Egyptian viewers.
4 – The internet has gone wild about the lack of social distancing when a TV reporter on private channel Sada Al-Balad was surrounded by over 10 people during his reporting.
In the report, talk show host Ahmad Mousa was being sarcastic as he spoke to the field reporter about how the individuals appearing with him surrounded him too closely.
“From what I see, I’m confident our people are abiding by social distancing,” Mousa said jokingly.
The reporter then decided to put on a face mask to protect himself from the complete lack of social-distancing.
5 – One of the most significant nights in Egypt since the COVID-19 outbreak was on March 24, when a group decided to march in Alexandria at midnight in what was later known as the “Corona Protests.”
A group of at least 200-300 people decided to take to the streets to rant against the pandemic thinking it was a good idea amidst all the calls to stay at home.
Video footage of their reckless behavior landed them in hot water as social media users seized upon every opportunity to make fun of them.