Egyptian authorities announced on Wednesday, May 13, that mosques will remain closed as the end of Ramadan approaches, despite the tradition of in-mosque Itikaf prayers during the last 10 days of the holy month. The decision comes as an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Egyptian authorities announced on Monday, May 11, that the use of face masks will be compulsory in banks nationwide beginning Sunday, May 17. The decision will be implemented with the objective of protecting staff to ensure that services will be available, as well as all customers being serviced. The move follows reports that two Banque du Caire employees at the downtown Cairo branch tested positive for COVID-19.
On Thursday, May 7, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi ratified several amendments to Egypt's existing emergency law to provide the presidency with more powers to control the COVID-19 outbreak. Due to the threat of terrorist activity, Egypt has been under a state of emergency since April 2017, but these amendments expand the powers of the president further to enable measures to be taken to control the COVID-19 outbreak. The new amendments, which were passed by the House of Representatives on Wednesday, April 22, include the right of the president to close schools and universities, to suspend work in government and private institutions, and to postpone payments for electricity, water, and gas services. The president will also be able to ban public and private gatherings, quarantine travelers arriving into the country, and restrict the trade of certain products.
Egyptian authorities announced on Sunday, May 3, that hotels may progressively begin operations amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. So long as hotels operate at 25 percent capacity or less through the month of May, they may accept domestic tourists. Hotels are required to have in-house medical staff and conduct temperature screenings of guests, as well as install disinfection equipment. Beginning Monday, June 1, hotels may operate at a maximum 50 percent capacity. Other restrictions on events and gatherings apply, and international passenger flights remain suspended.
On Thursday, April 23, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly announced that Egypt's nighttime curfew would be extended through the month of Ramadan. Ramadan will last until late May, likely between Saturday, May 23, and Sunday, May 24. Curfew hours will be adjusted during this period and will be enforced from 21:00 to 06:00 (local time). Madbouly added that the government expects to begin relaxing COVID-19-related restrictions after Ramadan.
As of March 25, public transportation has been halted, and most public services and government offices are closed to the public during curfew hours. Shops and malls, with the exception of groceries, bakeries, and pharmacies, will only be permitted to open from 06:00 to 17:00 from Sunday through Thursday, and must close on Fridays and Saturdays.
As of Thursday, May 14, authorities have confirmed 10,431 COVID-19 cases nationwide, with 556 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is expected.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the virus.
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