Expert warns of second wave of coronavirus in Egypt

A woman working at Medic Egypt for Medical Clothes company makes protective equipment to be used to help curb the spread of the coronavirus at a factory in Menoufiya, Egypt. (AP)
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Updated 11 June 2020

Expert warns of second wave of coronavirus in Egypt

  • Egypt has reported 1,306 deaths from the virus and 36,829 infections since the beginning of the outbreak in February

CAIRO: A World Health Organization (WHO) expert has confirmed the possibility of a second wave of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in a number of countries. 

Maha Talat, the regional antimicrobial adviser for the WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office, cited Iran as an example, where infections have surged again. Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, via videoconferencing, on the latest developments on the pandemic, she added that Egypt was still in the middle of the first wave, which has not yet subsided. After this wave, she said, another wave might hit the country. 

Egypt has reported 1,306 deaths from the virus and 36,829 infections since the beginning of the outbreak in February. 

Dr. Ahmed El-Zenary, a member of the infection control team in a quarantine hospital in Egypt, said: “What often happens with respiratory viruses is that they spread on a large scale, then start to decline, just like sea waves. A few months later, they surge again and spread around the world, or parts of the world, in what is known as the second wave.” 

He said a new wave takes place in the form of a genetic mutation in the virus. 

El-Zenary said this could be avoided in Egypt by: “Imposing restrictions on movement which limit the spread of the virus. However, this leaves many people subject to infection as soon as they start going out again.” 

He said a second wave of the virus would likely not be very strong.  

Cairo-based Dr. Abdel-Meguid Ibrahim told Arab News that Egypt could possibly face a second wave “although I believe that it will not be that different from the first wave, or that it will immediately follow the first wave. However, it is easy to avoid.”


Revealed: How Iran smuggles weapons to the Houthis

Updated 01 October 2020

Revealed: How Iran smuggles weapons to the Houthis

  • Captured gang tells of route to Yemen through base in Somalia

AL-MUKALLA, Yemen: A captured gang of arms smugglers has revealed how Iran supplies weapons to Houthi militias in Yemen through a base in Somalia.

The Houthis exploit poverty in Yemen to recruit fishermen as weapons smugglers, and send fighters to Iran for military training under cover of “humanitarian” flights from Yemen to Oman, the gang said.

The four smugglers have been interrogated since May, when they were arrested with a cache of weapons in Bab Al-Mandab, the strategic strait joining the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden.

In video footage broadcast on Yemeni TV, gang leader Alwan Fotaini, a fisherman from Hodeidah, admits he was recruited by the Houthis in 2015. His recruiter, a smuggler called Ahmed Halas, told him he and other fishermen would be based in the Somali coastal city of Berbera, from where they would transport weapons and fuel to the Houthis. 

In late 2015, Fotaini traveled to Sanaa and met a Houthi smuggler called Ibrahim Hassam Halwan, known as Abu Khalel, who would be his contact in Iran. 

This is a complex network that requires constant monitoring, hence the focus on maritime security.

Dr. Theodore Karasik, Security analyst

Pretending to be relatives of wounded fighters, Fotaini, Abu Khalel, and another smuggler called Najeeb Suleiman boarded a humanitarian flight to Oman, and then flew to Iran. They were taken to the port city of Bandar Abbas, where they received training on using GPS, camouflage, steering vessels and maintaining engines.

“We stayed in Bandar Abbas for a month as they were preparing an arms shipment that we would be transporting to Yemen,” Fotaini said.

On Fotaini’s first smuggling mission, his job was to act as a decoy for another boat carrying Iranian weapons to the Houthis. “The plan was for us to call the other boat to change course if anyone intercepted our boat,” he said.

He was then sent to Mahra in Yemen to await new arms shipments. The Houthis sent him data for a location at sea, where he and other smugglers met Abu Khalel with a boat laden with weapons from Iran, which were delivered to the Houthis.

Security analyst Dr. Theodore Karasik said long-standing trade ties between Yemen and Somalia made arms smuggling difficult to stop. “This is a complex network that requires constant monitoring, hence the focus on maritime security,” Karasik, a senior adviser to Gulf State Analytics in Washington, DC, told Arab News.

“The smuggling routes are along traditional lines of communication that intermix with other maritime commerce. The temptation to look the other way is sometimes strong, so sharp attention is required to break these chains.”