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Egypt: Al-Hayatam residents protest as security forces blockade village

Demonstrators are demanding the enforced isolation of the village be lifted so that they can move around freely and go to work.

Residents of Egypt's Al-Hayatam village in Mahalla are protesting after security forces placed checkpoints at the entrance and exit of the village after ten cases of COVID-19 were discovered.

Police have placed a cordon around the village and asked security forces enforcing it to keep their distance from the villagers.

Demonstrators are demanding the enforced isolation of the village be lifted so that they can move around freely and go to work.

They dispute claims that there is a large outbreak in their village and fear for their livelihoods since the regime has not offered financial or other support for many who have lost their jobs due to the lockdown measures that are being imposed across the country.

Local parliamentarians sent food parcels to the village with photographs of themselves, which angered the residents.

READ: Proposed COVID-19 pay rise insufficient, say Egypt's doctors

Egyptian authorities have isolated villages in ten governorates including the Red Sea, Menoufia and Minya.

The Health Ministry has also ordered the isolation of seven buildings in Port Said.

There are currently 865 official confirmed cases in Egypt, 58 deaths and 201 reported recoveries. Canadian researchers say this is a vast underestimate and that the real figure is in the thousands.

Critics are demanding more transparency from the government over the pandemic, including details of where confirmed cases are in the country. Authorities have not released specific statistics for governorates, cities and districts as other countries have.

A number of concerns over Egypt's response to the virus have been raised, including an uptick in violations against the media over their reporting on coronavirus.

Of the 100 billion Egyptian pounds ($6.3 billion) the government has pledged to support the fight against the disease, only one per cent has been allocated to health whilst 20 times more has been allocated to the stock exchange.

Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris recently suggested factory employees sleep on the floor of factories and not return home so that they can go back to work and keep the economy afloat, without spreading the virus.

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