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Egypt shuts schools, universities for two weeks as virus cases increase

A school in Egypt [Fady Nessim/USAID]

Egypt will close schools and universities for two weeks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus as the number of cases rises each day, reaching 109 with two deaths, the prime minister said on Saturday, Reuters reports.

The suspension of classes from Sunday follows previously announced measures including the cancellation of large public gatherings, restrictions on the time allocated for mass prayers and the halting of local football league matches for two weeks.

“Because we found that the numbers have started rising as of late, we decided to take such precautionary measures from this point in time (to prevent) the rapid spread that happened in other countries that delayed these kinds of decisions,” Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly told a news conference as he announced the temporary closure of schools and universities.

Egypt has also taken measures aimed at reassuring tourists that it is safe to visit the country after passengers contracted the coronavirus on a Nile river cruise ship.

Hundreds of tourists and tourism workers have been tested for the virus, and hotel facilities and cruise ships in Luxor and Aswan have been sanitised.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi also called for a 100 billion Egyptian pound ($6.38 billion) fund to finance a “comprehensive” state plan for tackling the outbreak, a statement by the presidency said, without giving details about the source of the funding.

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