Egyptian presidency: Spread of COVID-19 will be higher in second wave

Egyptian presidency: Spread of COVID-19 will be higher in second wave
A woman wearing a protective face mask walks at the underground Al Shohadaa "Martyrs" metro station in Cairo, Egypt. (Reuters)
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Updated 25 November 2020

Egyptian presidency: Spread of COVID-19 will be higher in second wave

Egyptian presidency: Spread of COVID-19 will be higher in second wave
  • During a speech, President El-Sisi said the vaccine would not be available before the middle of next year

CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fatteh El-Sisi revealed the approximate date for the availability of a vaccine for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as well as that of contracting to obtain the necessary share of vaccinations.

During a speech, President El-Sisi said the vaccine would not be available before the middle of next year, explaining that during the coming days, a contract would be made to obtain Egypt’s share of the vaccine.

He said Egypt has had a specialized scientific committee that has been managing the crisis since December of last year and that would now be dedicated to studying the most appropriate vaccines. 

Egypt has taken many measures at the economic level, including an EGP100 billion ($6.4 billion) initiative to confront the first wave of the virus.

El-Sisi said that during the management of the first wave, the state was forced to take measures that should not be repeated again. 

“This will only happen with your cooperation and eagerness and by taking the matter seriously. We had to partially isolate and close universities, schools, restaurants and tourist facilities during the first wave, and we do not want to repeat this,” he said.

He urged citizens to avoid sitting in closed spaces, to respect social distancing and to wear face masks to reduce the chances of contracting the virus. He also called on companies, factories and public transportation companies to continue to enforce the use of face masks, also calling on the prime minister to provide greater quantities of face masks in schools and universities.

Bassam Rady, spokesman for the Egyptian presidency, confirmed that the president’s speech came as a result of the increased number of new COVID-19 cases.

“During today’s meeting, it became clear that COVID-19 infections have increased all around the world, especially with the approach of December, which confirms that the second wave will be different from the first, as the symptoms differ with a wider spread of the disease,” Rady said.

Egyptian Minister of Higher Education Khaled Abdel Ghaffar said that the occupancy rate of intensive-care beds in university hospitals is at 38 percent and that the virus is still under control. The government is expecting an increase in the number of cases during the months of December and January.

COVID-19 cases in Egypt continue to rise, as 361 new cases and 13 deaths were recorded on Tuesday night.


Sudan schoolbook picture sparks angry reform debate

Sudan schoolbook picture sparks angry reform debate
Bookseller Yaqoub Mohamed Yaqoub, 45, sits by his roadside stall where he has been working for 15 years, in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, on January 14, 2021. (AFP)
Updated 16 January 2021

Sudan schoolbook picture sparks angry reform debate

Sudan schoolbook picture sparks angry reform debate
  • Unrest ricocheted beyond North African country, triggering uprisings, crackdowns, civil wars

KHARTOUM: As Sudan’s transitional government shifts the nation from the Islamist rule of ousted strongman Omar Bashir, a new schoolbook has sparked controversy for reproducing Michelangelo’s iconic “Creation of Adam.”
Khartoum’s government has embarked on deeply controversial reforms in a bid to boost its international standing and rescue its ailing economy — but bringing it into a confrontation with those who see changes as anti-Islamic.
The offending picture, in a history textbook for teenagers, has become a flashpoint in the argument. “It is an ugly offense,” said Sudan’s Academy of Islamic Fiqh, the body ruling on Islamic law, which issued an edict banning teaching from the book.
Michelangelo’s fresco, depicting the Biblical story of God reaching out with his hand to give life to Adam, is a flagship piece of 16th century Renaissance art that forms part of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling in Rome.
“The book glorifies Western culture in a way that makes it the culture of science and civilization — in contrast to its presentation of Islamic civilization,” the Fiqh academy added.

BACKGROUND

In a viral video, a preacher broke down as he waved the book during Friday prayers, accusing it of promoting ‘apostasy’ and ‘heresy.’

Furious Muslim clerics have railed against the book and other changes to the school curriculum.
In one video widely shared on social media, a preacher broke down as he waved the book during Friday prayers, accusing it of promoting “apostasy” and “heresy.”
Another urged followers to “burn the book.”
But others defended the changes, saying they were part of necessary education reforms.
“The picture is not in a religious book,” teacher Qamarya Omar said.
“It is in a history book for the sixth-grade under a section called European Renaissance, which makes it placed in context.”