Egyptians prepare to ‘coexist’ with COVID-19 as confirmed cases reach 23,449

People wearing face masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) walk in downtown Cairo on Sunday. (Reuters)
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Updated 01 June 2020

Egyptians prepare to ‘coexist’ with COVID-19 as confirmed cases reach 23,449

  • Egypt on Saturday reported 1,367 new coronavirus infections, the highest single-day increase announced to date, bringing the country’s total number of confirmed cases to 23,449

CAIRO: Egyptian government officials are getting the public ready for life after lockdown and coexisting with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), after new regulations were announced to stop the further spread of the virus.
One of the regulations is for people to wear face masks when they leave home. The decision particularly focuses on those who work in or visit markets, government buildings and banks. A fine of up to EGP4,000 ($254) could be levied if facemasks are not worn.
The decision regarding the mandatory wearing of facemasks was enforced from May 30 for 15 days.
Nader Saad, a spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said the government was working on the production of a low-cost cloth mask for EGP5, which unlike disposable masks, can be used for one month.
“The facemask must be worn in all enclosed places, including government buildings, private companies, banks, universities, shops, shopping malls and markets, whether they are open or closed,” Saad said in an interview with an Egyptian media outlet.
The requirement to wear face masks also applies to passengers and drivers of public transport, including the metro, trains, taxis, minibuses and ride-hailing vehicles. Drivers of private cars and their passengers are excluded from wearing masks.
There is also a decrease in curfew hours. During Ramadan the curfew was from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. During the Eid Al-Fitr holidays it ran from 5 p.m. to 6 a.m.
As of May 31 curfew hours start at 8 p.m. and end at 6 a.m. for 15 days. This step is aimed at helping employees commute to and from their workplace without fear of breaking curfew hours.
Egypt on Saturday reported 1,367 new coronavirus infections, the highest single-day increase announced to date, bringing the country’s total number of confirmed cases to 23,449 since the first case was detected on Feb. 14. The death toll is 913 nationwide.
Saad said that the restart of passenger flights would be discussed at an upcoming Coronavirus Crisis Management Committee on Wednesday, when the reopening date for places of worship will also be addressed.
He said flights could resume as soon as mid-June.
The government has been working on disinfecting airports as well as applying preventive measures in them to ensure they are safe for operation as soon as flights resume.
Egypt suspended international flights to and from the country at all airports nationwide on March 19. Only emergency flights repatriating stranded nationals have been operating.

 


New board of directors appointed to run Lebanon’s ‘corrupt’ state power company

Updated 42 min 23 sec ago

New board of directors appointed to run Lebanon’s ‘corrupt’ state power company

  • Regulation of electricity sector a key condition of international bailout for collapsing economy

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s government finally appointed a new board of directors on Tuesday to control the state-owned electricity company.
Electricite du Liban (EDL) has long been mired in allegations of corruption and fraud. Its annual losses of up to $2 billion a year are the biggest single drain on state finances as Lebanon faces economic collapse and the plunging value of its currency.
Reform of the electricity sector has been a key demand of the International Monetary Fund and potential donor states before they will consider a financial bailout.
“Lebanon’s electricity policy has been inefficient and ineffective for decades — always on the brink of collapse, but staying afloat with last minute patchwork solutions,” said Kareem Chehayeb of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy in Washington, DC.
“The economic crisis has made fuel imports more expensive, causing a shortage, with external generator providers hiking their prices or seeking business in Syria. It is a wake-up call to decades of overspending and poor planning of a basic public service.”
The World Bank has described the electricity sector in Lebanon as “tainted with corruption and waste,” and the IMF said “canceling the subsidy to electricity is the most important potential saving in spending.”
Electricity rationing was applied for the first time to hospitals and the law courts, but Minister of Energy Raymond Ghajar said: “The first vessel loaded with diesel for power plants has arrived, and as of Wednesday the power supply will improve.”
Prime Minister Hassan Diab promised the Lebanese people on Tuesday that they would see the results of government efforts to resolve the country’s financial chaos “in the coming weeks.”
Addressing a Cabinet meeting, Diab said: “The glimmer of hope is growing.” However, the appointment of an  EDF board of directors was criticized by opposition politicians. Former prime minister Najib Mikati said the appointments meant “the crime of wrong prevailing over right … is being repeated.”