Egyptian authorities forced a Guardian journalist to leave the country after she reported research claiming real coronavirus figures could be higher than official numbers, the UK newspaper reported Thursday, Anadolu reports.
Security services told Ruth Michaelson to leave immediately after her accreditation was cancelled and she was accused of misreporting a study and causing public panic.
Last week, Egyptian officials revoked my press card and then began demanding that I leave the country. All because of a single story about COVID-19, where I cited research from scientists at the University of Toronto. https://t.co/7VSSh3zsyW
— Ruth Michaelson (@msrmichaelson) March 26, 2020
The story Michaelson reported March 15 was based on a scientific study by a group of infectious disease experts from the University of Toronto, as well as public health data and news stories.
It forecasted Egypt could have had more than 19,000 COVID-19 cases by early March, with the lower end of the range of about 6,000.v
At that time, authorities announced the official number of cases was three.
Officials also asked the newspaper to remove the story and publish an official apology.
Michaelson returned last Friday to Germany on a flight carrying stranded tourists and foreign nationals. She has reported from Egypt since 2014.
The total number of cases in Egypt rose to 456 after 54 new cases were detected, according to the health ministry there Thursday.
After first appearing in Wuhan, China, in December, the virus has spread to at least 175 countries and territories, according to data compiled by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.
The data shows more than 495,000 cases have been reported worldwide, with the death toll above 22,200 and nearly 120,000 recoveries.