Egypt fears second wave as coronavirus cases climb

Egyptians get tested for Covid-19 at a drive-through coronavirus-testing centre at the Ain Shams University in Cairo on June 29, 2020. (File/AFP)
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Updated 12 August 2020

Egypt fears second wave as coronavirus cases climb

  • Health measures ignored after Eid Al-Adha festivities, authorities warn

CAIRO: Egypt has warned of a second wave of coronavirus in the country following a recent spike in infections.

The warning dashes hopes of an end to the outbreak after a promising drop in case numbers over the past week.

On Monday, the Egyptian Ministry of Health reported 174 new cases and 26 new deaths from the disease, a consecutive day-by-day increase.

Many fear a second wave, especially as health precautions and face mask guidelines are being ignored. Malls, cafes, restaurants and beaches are witnessing huge crowding across the country.

“We cannot say that we entered a second wave of the coronavirus because the current wave has not ended,” Presidential Health Adviser Muhammad Awad Tajuddin said.

“Case numbers have fallen, but there has been an increase over the past few days. We expected this because the same thing happened during Eid Al-Fitr due to large gatherings on coasts and beaches,” he added.

In an interview on TV channel Al-Mihwar, he said a second wave is expected in the fall because of lower temperatures and the disease’s similarity to seasonal influenza.

The adviser added that isolation hospitals are ready in case of an increase in intensive care cases.

On Sunday, Minister of Health and Population Hala Zayed urged Egyptians to follow preventive measures, especially after Eid Al-Adha celebrations.

The ministry recently reopened many isolation hospitals that were closed several weeks ago as part of a strategy to deal with the spike.

Khaled Mujahid, media adviser to the Ministry of Health, said the hospitals will treat moderate to severe cases of coronavirus, while people with minor cases of the illness follow self-quarantine guidelines.

He urged anyone over the age of 60 or those suffering from chronic diseases, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic lung disease, cerebrovascular disease, chronic kidney disease and pregnant women to avoid gatherings.

Warnings of a second wave in Egypt were a trending topic on Twitter and “the second wave” was the most-tweeted phrase.

Hussam Hosni, head of the Scientific Committee to Combat Coronavirus at the Ministry of Health, said that the return of high case numbers was due to precautionary measures being ignored, but added that the country has yet to enter a second wave of the pandemic.

He said Egypt had the pandemic under control in the first phase and called on people to follow precautionary measures.

As of Monday, the number of coronavirus cases in the country since the beginning of the outbreak totaled 95,666, including 53,779 recoveries and 5,035 deaths.

Lebanon finds four bodies after deadly sea crossing

Updated 50 min 34 sec ago

Lebanon finds four bodies after deadly sea crossing

  • UN peacekeepers retrieved one body and rescued 36 people from a boat in trouble in international waters off the Lebanese coast
  • Families of the survivors said the boat had been adrift without food or water for around a week
BEIRUT: Lebanon has retrieved the bodies of four people including a child after they tried to flee the crisis-hit country by sea on an overloaded dinghy, the civil defense said Monday.
A week ago, UN peacekeepers retrieved one body and rescued 36 people from a boat in trouble in international waters off the Lebanese coast.
Families of the survivors said the boat had been adrift without food or water for around a week, during which time several passengers had died or jumped overboard to find help.
The bodies are presumed to be from the same ill-fated crossing.
Since Friday, “we have retrieved four bodies — belonging to two Lebanese, one of whom was a child, a young Indian man and a Syrian man,” Samir Yazbek, the head of the civil defense’s sea rescue unit, told AFP.
The bodies were found in four separate locations off the north and south coasts of the country, and the search was ongoing, he added.
The UN refugee agency said last week that 25 Syrians, eight Lebanese and three people of other nationalities had been rescued from the boat.
It is unclear how many men, women and children originally clambered aboard the dinghy, and therefore how many are still missing.
On Saturday, the navy said it would step up its searches within and outside Lebanon’s territorial waters to find any other victims.
Relatives of those who went missing from the impoverished north Lebanese city of Tripoli say the people smuggler involved in the crossing has dropped off the radar since the tragedy.
They have filed three legal complaints against the man, who they say is a well-known figure in the community.
A military source on Saturday said a person acting as an intermediary between passengers and the boat owner had been arrested.
In recent weeks, dozens of Lebanese and Syrians have tried to make the perilous sea journey from Lebanon to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, authorities on both sides say.
The Republic of Cyprus, a European Union member, lies just 160 kilometers (100 miles) away.
Lebanon is in the throes of its worst economic crisis in decades, compounded since February by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
It is also reeling from a monster blast at Beirut’s port last month that killed more than 190 people, ravaged large parts of the capital and reignited public anger against the political class.