The Egyptian governor of the country's southern province of Asyut yesterday called for 30 citizens who recently returned to Egypt from Italy, to report their whereabouts so that the authorities can ensure that they are not contaminated with the coronavirus.
Essam Saad told local media that the Asyut security forces were carrying out the search operation, adding that the returned citizens should: "Contact the authorities so that arrangements can be made for the necessary medical examinations for any potential coronavirus infections."
"The government has managed to examine only 80 per cent of 200 Egyptians who returned from Italy," Saad pointed out.
The news has sparked a wave of anger across social media networks, raising fears of the possible spread of the virus. Activists blamed the government and criticised the: "Negligence and recklessness of the local authorities."
The governorate recently posted on Facebook that Saad had allocated four laboratories to examine any potential coronavirus cases. It added that the laboratories will begin operating "in a few days".
There are currently 456 confirmed cases, with 21 fatalities, according to the Egyptian Health Ministry's official figures. In an attempt to curb the virus spread, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly declared a night-time curfew on Tuesday, banning movement of citizens on all public roads from 7pm-6am for two weeks.
After emerging in Wuhan, China, in the final month of 2019, COVID-19 has spread to at least 170 countries and regions.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared it a pandemic. Out of more than 525,297 confirmed cases worldwide, the death toll now exceeds 23,701, while over 123, 329 have recovered.
Since the outbreak, countries in the region have implemented strict measures such as mandatory curfews, and the closures of schools and public institutions. Congregational prayers at mosques are no longer being held, and prisoners have been released in order to prevent them from becoming infected and spreading the virus within prisons.