In a press conference held today at the Cabinet headquarters in Cairo, Egypt’s Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli announced
suspension of air traffic at all Egyptian airports starting Thursday 19 March till Tuesday 31 March. Mr Madbouli explained that tourists currently in Egypt could carry on with their trips and leave back to their countries at the dates scheduled beforehand.
The government, the PM said, will use the flight suspension period to give all touristic institutions and hotels the opportunity to sanitise their facilities, so that once flights resume they would be well-equipped to receive tourists.
Two days ago, schools and universities in Egypt were closed for a period of two weeks, in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus in large gatherings. Simultaneously, the Ministry of Education cracked down on private educational centres which house private tutoring sessions, and are notorious for overcrowding. The Minister of Youth and Sports announced that all sports activities would be suspended for the same duration.
It did not help, however, that many young Egyptians felt they had been granted an unanticipated holiday, and converged on coffee shops and shopping centres, oblivious to health warnings against crowding. At today’s press conference, the PM said the State was taking all measures at all costs to halt the spread of the virus, but he reminded people that they have to cooperate through avoiding large gatherings and following health recommendations.
Mr Madbouli said that later today the Cabinet would issue a decision reducing the number of administrative government employees whose work does not directly affect the public. This, he explained would be done to reduce mingling. He stressed, however, that this decision will not involve government facilities related to strategic and main services.
The PM also addressed the fear among Egyptians that the cautionary measures against COVID-19 might lead to shortage in vital supplies, so they have been stockpiling on foods and household needs. He said there was no need for the shopping hysteria, since he could safely confirm that Egypt’s strategic supplies can cover several months ahead.
According to today’s figures, COVID-19 infections detected in Egypt stand at 150 cases; among them 32 have recovered and two died.
16 March 2020