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.

 


Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia return to talks over disputed dam

Updated 03 August 2020

Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia return to talks over disputed dam

  • Khartoum and Cairo have repeatedly rejected the filling of the massive reservoir
  • Ethiopia says the dam will provide electricity to millions

CAIRO: Three key Nile basin countries on Monday resumed their negotiations to resolve a years-long dispute over the operation and filling of a giant hydroelectric dam that Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile, officials said.
The talks came a day after tens of thousands of Ethiopians flooded the streets of their capital, Addis Ababa, in a government-backed rally to celebrate the first stage of the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’s 74 billion-cubic-meter reservoir.
Ethiopia’s announcement sparked fear and confusion downstream in Sudan and Egypt. Both Khartoum and Cairo have repeatedly rejected the filling of the massive reservoir without reaching a deal among the Nile basin countries.
Ethiopia says the dam will provide electricity to millions of its nearly 110 million citizens, help bring them out of poverty and also make the country a major power exporter.
Egypt, which depends on the Nile River to supply its booming population of 100 million people with fresh water, asserts the dam poses an existential threat.
Sudan, between the two countries, says the project could endanger its own dams — though it stands to benefit from the Ethiopian dam, including having access to cheap electricity and reduced flooding. The confluence of the Blue Nile and the White Nile near Khartoum forms the Nile River that then flows the length of Egypt and into the Mediterranean Sea.
Irrigation ministers of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia took part in Monday’s talks, which were held online amid the coronavirus pandemic. The virtual meeting was also attended by officials from the African Union and South Africa, the current chairman of the regional block, said Sudan’s Irrigation Minister Yasir Abbas. Officials from the US and the European Union were also in attendance, said Egypt’s irrigation ministry.
Technical and legal experts from the three countries would resume their negotiations based on reports presented by the AU and the three capitals following their talks in July, Abbas said. The three ministers would meet online again on Thursday, he added.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed attributed the reservoir’s filling to the torrential rains flooding the Blue Nile — something that occurred naturally, “without bothering or hurting anyone else.”
However, Egypt’s Irrigation Minister Mohammed Abdel-Atty said the filling, without “consultations and coordination” with downstream countries, sent “negative indications that show Ethiopian unwillingness to reach a fair deal.”
Ethiopia’s irrigation ministry posted on its Facebook page that it would work to achieve a “fair and reasonable” use of the Blue Nile water.
Key sticking points remain, including how much water Ethiopia will release downstream if a multi-year drought occurs and how the countries will resolve any future disputes. Egypt and Sudan have pushed for a binding agreement, which Ethiopia rejects and insists on non-binding guidelines.