Bats besiege Egyptian village causing coronavirus panic

Bats besiege Egyptian village causing coronavirus panic
A man shows a dead bat in an Egyptian village close to the capital Cairo. (AN photo)
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Updated 19 April 2020

Bats besiege Egyptian village causing coronavirus panic

Bats besiege Egyptian village causing coronavirus panic
  • The owner of the abandoned house was told to close all windows and doors, to check on it periodically and use the same cocktail of ingredients to kill any remaining bats

CAIRO: Egyptian villagers panicked after a huge number of bats flew over their homes, fearing they would be infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Residents of Al-Hazaneya, which is in Qalioubiya governorate close to Cairo, called on officials to take action when they saw the bats in flight.
It has been reported for months that the virus originated in bats and was transmitted to humans, increasing the Egyptian villagers’ worry that they might become sick because of the bats.
They filed an official complaint about an abandoned house, saying it had a large number of bats inside that attacked residents at night.
Gharib Ahmed, local council chairman of Shebin El-Qanater city where the village is located, called for calm. “The local unit succeeded in killing a number of bats by lighting fires and using pesticides in the house, but many bats escaped,” he said.
The house was abandoned and had become infested with bats “just like any other abandoned site,” he added, stressing it was a normal occurrence in villages and agricultural areas. What had caused people to panic was the spread of coronavirus, which had originated from bats, he said.
Officials chased most of the bats away by lighting fires, then using a mix of the smoke and red chili powder to kill and scare off the remaining creatures. Many bats were killed inside the house, which was later disinfected.
The owner of the abandoned house was told to close all windows and doors, to check on it periodically and use the same cocktail of ingredients to kill any remaining bats.
Osama Desouky, chairman of the local unit, told Arab News that the three-floor house was built 18 years ago. He said it did not have any windows or doors except for the main entrance. The owner died after building it, with the property becoming a breeding ground for bats and their numbers multiplied.
Officials found a large number of bats after inspecting the house. He said authorities immediately contacted veterinary and health officials, who confirmed that there was no particular substance that killed them. However, residents and the local unit nevertheless used the smoke-and-chili powder concoction. A hundred bats were reportedly killed.
Desouky said the unit would be in contact with extermination companies as well as businesses which he said could produce special bat-killing substances.
Hussein Abu Saddam, head of the Egyptian Farmers’ Syndicate, said there was no reason for the residents of Al-Hazaneya to panic because it was normal for bats to be found in abandoned houses, and that they were harmless.
Bats were found all over the world and that most kinds ate insects and fruit and they were useful for striking an ecological balance, he added, explaining there were more than 1,300 kinds, including the Egyptian fruit bat, nose bats, white bats, the Indian Flying Fox, brown bats, and horseshoe bats, the latter connected to coronavirus.
Abu Saddam said the reputation of bats being human bloodsuckers was linked to myths and legends. People had become more afraid of bats because they lived for a long time, were found in groups and were now synonymous with the surge of COVID-19.
“Thus they are like fertile soil for spreading respiratory system infections,” he said, adding that they spread infections when they flew long distances.