In my last editorial I prayed that God would support Egypt in her battle against coronavirus COVID-19. I commended the government’s cautionary measures against the spread of the virus which had taken the world by storm, measures that served to protect the people and tame any recklessness. Coronavirus has succeeded in spreading terror around the globe, and imposed lockdowns on activities one and all, be they economic, social, sports or otherwise. So much so that “Stay at home” has swept the world. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 25 per cent of the global population are now in voluntarily home confinement, until further notice.
The cautionary measures have without doubt cast a bleak shadow over communities, given that consumption patterns have been disrupted, production reduced or altogether halted, and millions pushed out of work to face unemployment and an unknown destiny. Even though this has led to attempts throughout the world to find ways to lift economies out of the doldrums and support the millions of unemployed, many challenges remain. Experts and observers closely following up on the global changes on account of COVID-19 are almost unanimous in the view that the pandemic stands to alter the face of the earth, the stances of States, the weight of world powers and blocs, and even the tools to manage crises.
Egypt, too, has not been spared the economic ravages worked by COVID-19; the country is already footing the bill for the cautionary measures that have, predictably, hurt production. Many sectors of the population are out of work and look to the government to help them out. We pray that our Lord would have mercy on Egyptians in their economic hardship, just as He has had mercy on us in our plight against COVID-19. To date, the daily numbers announced by WHO of infections and deaths on account of the virus in Egypt are far below numbers in many other countries in the world.
Among those paying dearly for the cautionary measures against COVID-19 are press organisations. Revenue from advertisements and circulation has dropped, forcing publishers to lay off editorial staff and/or reduce the number of pages printed. Watani was not exempt of this fate, quite the contrary; it has shouldered a large share of the brunt. A full 50 per cent of Watani’s paper circulation comes through outlets in churches all over the country. On 21 March, Churches in Egypt took the decision to close all churches in order to comply with advice to reduce or eliminate gatherings in order to halt the spread of COVID-19, a decision hailed by Watani as commendable and in the interest of the public. But the closure brought on a sharp decline in the paper’s circulation. We wish to inform our readers, however, that Watani is still on newsstands nationwide, and is still being sent to subscribers on time. We have increased the number of Watani copies with newspaper distributors to compensate for the temporary halt of distribution through church outlets. We count on the support of our readers during this critical time Egypt is going through, and until we can navigate it to safe shores.
1 April 2020