CAIRO: Egyptians are taking different approaches towards dealing with the coronavirus disease.
There are those who follow the government’s instructions and that of the Ministry of Health to a tee, so much so that they seem obsessed.
There is also an indifferent lot, probably the majority of the country’s 100 million people, who deal with the spread of the virus nonchalantly, due to either lack of awareness of the severity of the pandemic or the nature of the Egyptian character, which believes in fate.
A third category is obligated to deal with the virus due to the nature of their profession or their economic circumstances.
“I haven’t seen the streets for the past month except to get the most basic necessities,” Mohamed Abdel-Karim, a journalist, told Arab News.
“Be very careful in dealing with others in the supermarket and other stores. I fear for my children and my wife, and we take great care regarding safety and hygiene at home,” Abdel-Karim said.
“I think that the UAE has suspended selling newspapers because it may contribute to spreading the virus. In Egypt this did not happen,” Abdel-Karim said. He called on newspapers in Egypt to suspend printing, saying that only websites should publish news. “When the crisis is over, print newspapers can return,” Abdel-Karim said.
“I am anxious, and what I see in the world obliges me to be extra careful in fear for my life and my children,” Abdel-Karim said. “I go out every day to the market to buy the needs of the home,” Zeinab Wafik, 48, a housewife, said. “Everyone in my neighborhood goes out like I do. I see some people wearing face masks but the majority do not.
“How long one lives is in the hands of God. If God wants someone to get hurt, He will not wait for the virus, and if He wants to take a soul, then He will,” Wafik said.
“I always wash and clean whatever I buy from the market. There is absolutely nothing new in what I do. I don’t know about ethanol. I use chlorine, similar to many of my neighbors,” a mother of three said.
Despite the strict government measures and the constant media appeals, Egyptian streets are crowded most of the day, basically until the curfew starts at 8 p.m. The nighttime curfew was recently extended for a second time.
With the increasing number of people infected with the coronavirus in Egypt, the government is applying strict measures to prevent crowding but there are millions of Egyptians, given the nature of their work, who are forced to work in cramped conditions.
“I have to walk the streets every day in search of my livelihood,” deliveryman Ahmed Al-Najdi said.
Al-Najdi said that if he stays at home, he and his children will not find someone to feed them.
He called on the government to support the poor by exempting them from bills and debts, and to provide more financial support to help them overcome the crisis.
“We disinfect the restaurant, we wear hand and face guards, and carry ethyl alcohol bottles with us, and yet some customers are scared of dealing with us,” Al-Najdi said.
Dr. Suzy Ibrahim, head of the infection control team at Al-Zawya General Hospital in Cairo, suggested moderation when dealing with the spread of the virus, stressing that people should not be overly afraid of the pandemic.
“The fear must be controlled because it greatly affects immunity,” Ibrahim said.
“The most important thing is to prepare the immune system to deal with this virus in case of an infection, God forbid, and that is by playing sports, getting a good amount of sleep, eating healthily and avoiding fear because it weakens the immune system.”
By Saturday, the Health Ministry had the total number of coronavirus cases in Egypt at 1,939, with 146 deaths recorded.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s chief prosecutor late Sunday ordered 23 people to remain in detention for 15 days pending an investigation into blocking a road to a cemetery in a Nile Delta village to prevent the burial of a physician who died from the coronavirus. Public Prosecutor Hamada El-Sawy described preventing her burial as a “terrorist act.”