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Egypt: 46 new COVID-19 cases, Brits stranded as flights are cancelled

Image of EgyptAir plane [Alf van Beem/Wikipedia]
EgyptAir plane [Alf van Beem/Wikipedia]

The Egyptian government has announced 46 new cases of coronavirus in the country, raising the total official figure to 256.

A 68-year-old Egyptian from Giza Governorate passed away whilst in quarantine yesterday raising the total death toll to seven.

A recent study by Canadian specialists estimated that there are over 19,000 cases in the country. They reached the figure, which is vastly higher than the official toll, after combining travel data, flight data and infection rates.

Authorities have been accused of suppressing accurate statistics on the spread of the virus and controlling the narrative including setting up a Whatsapp number for residents to report “rumours”.

READ: Egypt’s new capital halts construction as 20 workers test positive for COVID-19

In its latest measure to curb the spread of the infection, Egypt announced yesterday it would shut all cafes, shopping malls, sports clubs and nightclubs from 7pm to 6am until 31 March.

Supermarkets, pharmacies, bakeries and corner shops would remain open.

It follows a government decision to close schools and universities on 15 March. Public gatherings have been restricted and funerals cancelled. Cinemas and theatres have been closed.

Hundreds of British holiday makers are stuck in Egypt since air traffic was grounded and numerous flights were cancelled.

A British family told Devon Live how they arrived in Egypt for a en-day holiday in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada when the Foreign Office was not warning against travelling there, but now the city is in lockdown.

READ: Sinai: Soldier records himself mutilating civilian corpse then burning it in desert

They told the publication that they fear being made homeless with two young children as the hotels around them close down.

The government has just announced that cities in Egypt’s South Sinai Governorate will be closed to tourists for the next two weeks.

Luxor airport has shut and scheduled flights are sold out.

Coronavirus is affecting the world's economy - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Coronavirus is affecting the world’s economy – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Activists are becoming increasingly concerned about what will happen to Egypt’s 60,000 political detainees if coronavirus enters prisons since they live in overcrowded cells which are not cleaned and have very limited access to the bathroom, with many forced to use buckets inside their room.

Egyptian authorities have systematically denied prisoners adequate health care, leaving many to die as a punitive measure for belonging to the opposition.

According to Maan News, Egypt’s State Security Prosecution released 15 opposition prisoners yesterday in a move to stem the spread of coronavirus.

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