Last week, Egypt’s Ministry of Health announced that the country had received a 30-ton shipment of preventive medical supplies from the People’s Republic of China, a gift of support to Egypt in its ongoing battle against COVID-19. This was the third such shipment Egypt receives from China and, according to Chinese Ambassador to Cairo Liao Liqiag, came in the context of the close ties between the two countries. The first two batches of medical aid had arrived on 21 April and 10 May; each weighed four tons. The recent shipment consisted of a million masks; 150,000 N95 masks; 70,000 COVID-19 test kits; 1,000 temperature screening devices; 70,000 protective medical suits; and 70,000 medical gloves. Minister of Health and Population, Hala Zayed, thanked the Chinese government and people, and announced that the supplies would be distributed among quarantine, fever, and respiratory disease hospitals across Egypt.
I welcomed the news of the Chinese aid to Egypt with a sense of comfort, noting with appreciation the recurrent exchange of relief shipments between Egypt and a number of countries around the world. If anything, that exchange upholds concepts of partnership, solidarity, synergy and brotherliness among peoples. It underscores the Egyptian folk saying: “Such is life, it’s all about giving and receiving.” The aid which Egypt granted and still grants other countries, even if culled from the country’s strategic reserves allocated to combat COVID-19, is a long term investment that carries outstanding political wisdom and that aims at reinforcing bonds of interdependence in Egypt’s international relations. The support Egypt offered is now being reciprocated. In fact, is there any country in today’s world, no matter how advanced or self-sufficient, that behaved as though it needs no favours from others, closed its doors, and refrained from receiving or offering help to other countries that suffer from the same current crushing pandemic? If self-sufficient countries could not turn their backs on others, then it is fitting for Egypt, which cannot do without international cooperation, to invest in solidarity and friendship and, when the time comes, to reap the fruit of cooperation.
Ever since the outbreak of coronavirus in China then in south east Asia and from there to Europe and the US, at the time when the virus was still in its early days in our country, Egypt sent a delegation headed by the Minister of Health to deliver a shipment of medical and preventive supplies to the people of China. Again, at the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy, Egypt sent medical aid to the Italians, at the hands of a delegation headed by the Minister of Health. Later, Egyptian military planes carried shipments of medical supplies to the US. It is self-evident that the medical relief purpose behind all these shipments pales before the moral support and solidarity they were meant to express. Egypt is now reaping the fruit of its empathy and political wisdom as other countries reciprocate in understanding and appreciation.
So far, so good; what can possibly be wrong with international empathy and support? I feel saddened, no revolted, to say that as I read the online news of the third batch of Chinese aid to Egypt, I was struck almost speechless by some reader comments on the news. Such comments were negative, ridiculous, rejecting, and harshly critical of the supplies. They alleged, basing on no facts whatsoever, that the supplies were defective and harmful and, using conspiracy theory, they accused China of conspiring against Egypt, and Egypt’s Health Ministry of foolishness in falling in with the conspiracy. I was astounded at the ability to ignorantly and viciously tarnish a good deed and spread appalling disinformation.
If those who spread such damaging ideas do not belong to the extremist fanatic movements whose raison d’être is to shatter the peace and stability of the nation, how could they be so reckless as to promote such destructive thought? And how could they give themselves the right to randomly fling unsubstantiated accusations? I am sorry to say that the havoc created by social media promotes a virus much more lethal than coronavirus.
21 May 2020