Egypt Imposes Night-time Curfew In Bid To Contain COVID-19

Workers disinfect a gallery at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo’s landmark Tahrir Square amid the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, on March 23, 2020. Khaled DESOUKI / AFP.

 

Egypt is to impose a night-time curfew for two weeks from Wednesday to contain the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli announced.

“Movement will be banned on all public roads from 7 pm to 6 am… for two weeks,” Madbouli told a Tuesday news conference.

“All mass transport, public and private, will be halted over the same period.”

Penalties for violators include a fine of up to 4,000 Egyptian pounds (just over $250) and even prison, he said.

The prime minister said central and provincial government services, including the issuing of licences, would be suspended for two weeks.

He said that malls and shops selling more than basic goods would be allowed to open until 5 pm on work days but would be required to close over the Friday-Saturday weekend.

Cafes and nightclubs would be closed, while restaurants and other food outlets would be allowed to offer delivery services only.

Bakeries, grocery stores, pharmacies and supermarkets outside malls would be exempted.

The health ministry has so far registered 19 deaths from the coronavirus in Egypt out of 366 confirmed cases.

The government has already closed schools and universities and halted air traffic in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus among the country’s 100 million people.

Religious authorities have since Saturday shut all mosques and churches and halted prayer gatherings for at least two weeks.

– Demonstrations –

Madbouli said the government might impose stricter measures if the situation worsened and the number of confirmed cases topped 1,000.

He condemned calls for demonstrations saying they provided fertile ground for the transmission of the virus.

Early Tuesday, police moved swiftly to disperse dozens of demonstrators who had attempted to hold overnight marches in the Mediterranean coastal city of Alexandria.

Footage posted on Twitter showed marchers chanting: “God is greatest,” and: “May God rescue us from this plague.”

They were “dispersed in accordance with government measures preventing gatherings to avoid contagion”, a security source told AFP, adding that no arrests were made.

Dar al-Ifta, Egypt’s institution for issuing religious edicts, condemned such protests as “malicious” and “forbidden” under Islamic law.

The institution urged Egyptians to comply with government measures against the spread of the virus.

Protests have effectively been banned in Egypt since 2013 and the country has been under a state of emergency since April 2017.

AFP

Egypt Disinfects Landmark Museum Over Coronavirus

A worker disinfects the atrium of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo’s landmark Tahrir Square amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, on March 23, 2020. Khaled DESOUKI / AFP.

 

Cleaning crews descended upon the landmark Egyptian Museum in Cairo on Monday, dousing it with disinfectants as fears mount over the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Sporting white coats, gloves and face masks, the men sprayed sanitisers across the vast museum halls, home to thousands of precious relics spanning Egypt’s prehistoric era through the Roman period.

The museum also holds the priceless objects of the 18th dynasty Egyptian boy king Tutankhamun including his gold mask, a chariot and throne.

Nestled in Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square, the museum has long been a major tourist draw.

“The museum has been ordered shut from today (Monday) until March 31 and we started the cleaning operations on exposed surfaces,” said Sabah Sediq, the museum’s director.

The artefacts were kept behind locked glass vitrines as staff proceeded with the disinfection procedures.

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“We will be using special materials designed to clean and protect the artifacts in restoration labs,” Sediq said.

Similar cleaning operations are to be carried out at archaeological sites and museums across Egypt to guard against the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Saturday, the antiquities ministry said disinfection and sterilisation measures had already been taken at prominent ancient sites including the Kom al-Shoqafa catacombs and the Roman victory column of “Pompey’s Pillar” in the coastal city of Alexandria.

The operations have also swept hotels, sea and airports, metro stations and other sites across Egypt.

Egypt’s health ministry has so far registered 14 deaths out of 327 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 disease.

Authorities have imposed tough measures to limit social interaction in the country of 100 million inhabitants, closing schools and universities and ordering cafes, restaurants, sporting clubs and malls to close by 7.00 pm.

Air traffic was halted from last Thursday until the end of March.

Egypt’s religious authorities have shuttered all mosques and churches and banned communal prayer gatherings for at least two weeks.

AFP

Coronavirus Kills Two Senior Military Officers In Egypt

Workers disinfect a gallery at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo’s landmark Tahrir Square amid the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, on March 23, 2020. Khaled DESOUKI / AFP.

 

A second senior military officer in Egypt has died of the new coronavirus, state television reported Monday, as the officially declared death toll stood at 14 from 327 cases recorded nationwide.

Major General Shafee Dawood, head of major infrastructure projects at the military engineering authority, became the latest high-ranking figure in Egypt to die from COVID-19 in hospital.

His death comes after Major General Khaled Shaltout, the army’s chief of water management, died from the virus late Sunday.

State television said that Shaltout contracted the disease after having taken part in “sterilisation” procedures to stave off the virus.

Other high-ranking military officials have also been confirmed to have tested positive for the disease, security sources told AFP.

The army released a video last week showing tanks spraying disinfectant in major Cairo sites including the central metro station in Tahrir Square, epicentre of the 2011 revolt that toppled former autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

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For decades, the military has played a key, though opaque, role in Egypt’s economy.

Its engineering arm has been behind the construction of a new administrative capital, 50 kilometres (30 miles) east of Cairo, as well as highways and roads.

Health ministry spokesperson Khaled Megahed said on Sunday that infections from the COVID-19 virus have been identified in 24 of the country’s 27 governorates.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said Sunday his government has dealt with the pandemic with “full transparency” and denied the true infection rate is being suppressed.

On social media, Egyptians have been critical of the government’s perceived slow handling of the pandemic.

Authorities have imposed tough measures to limit social interaction in the country of 100 million inhabitants.

They have closed schools and universities, ordered cafes, restaurants, nightclubs, sporting clubs and malls to close by 7:00 pm, and trimmed the civil service workforce.

Religious institutions have also shut down churches and called off prayers in mosques to stem the spread of the virus.

AFP

S.Africa Fortifies Border Fence With Zimbabwe Over Coronavirus

A man sprays commuters with hand sanitiser as a preventive measures at Wanderers taxi rank in Johannesburg CBD, on March 18, 2020. – African countries have been among the last to be hit by the global COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic but as cases rise, many nations are now taking strict measures to block the deadly illness. Michele Spatari / AFP.

 

South Africa said Thursday it would erect or repair 40 kilometres (25 miles) of fence along its border with Zimbabwe to secure porous entry points in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Meandering along the Limpopo river, the Beitbridge border between South Africa and Zimbabwe is prone to illegal crossovers, especially by economic migrants who often crawl through broken sections of the fence.

Public Works Minister Patricia de Lille announced she had invoked emergency procurement procedures to build or repair fencing on either side of the Beitbridge Border post.

“This is to ensure that no undocumented or infected persons cross into the country and vice-versa,” she said as South Africa’s infection numbers jumped to 150 Thursday from 116 the previous day.

“This is in line with one of the measures announced by the president in that South Africa’s borders and ports are to be secured with immediate effect,” she said in a statement.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has ordered that 35 of the 53 land entry points be closed as coronavirus infections in South Africa rise rapidly.

“This measure will, however, not be effective if the fences at the border are not secure, which in many places, they are not.”

Construction is due to start this week.

“All 40 kilometres of fence will be finished within one month,” she said.

Fixing the 1.8 metre (5.9 feet)-high fence will cost approximately 37.2 million rand ($2.1 million).

South Africa currently has the most infections in sub-Saharan Africa.

Most cases are people who recently returned from abroad, especially Europe, but the number of local infections is increasing.

AFP

13 Injured As Trains Collide In Cairo

Egypt Detects 12 New Cases Of Coronavirus

(FILES) This file handout illustration image obtained February 3, 2020, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Lizabeth MENZIES / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention / AFP

Egypt detected 12 new cases Friday of the novel coronavirus among workers aboard a Nile cruise boat heading from Aswan to Luxor, a health ministry statement said.

“Twelve new cases tested positive for the coronavirus among Egyptian staff on the cruise boat without showing any symptoms,” the joint statement with the World Health Organization said.

Authorities were alerted after it was found that a Taiwanese tourist of “American origin” who travelled on the ship had caused the virus to spread, they said.

WHO had alerted Egyptian officials that tests revealed that the tourist, a woman, was the “main case that infected other cases”, the statement added.

It was not clear where the tourist contracted the virus and if she had gone back to Taiwan or another country.

The 12 workers were quarantined after they were suspected of contracting the coronavirus and tested positive on the last day of their 14-day isolation.

Other people who were on the boat and had come in contact with the tourist were also quarantined for 14 days.

Earlier this week, authorities said they had detected a third case of the virus, in a 44-year-old Egyptian man who had returned from Serbia after a 12-hour transit in France.

Initially, the man had shown no symptoms but a few days after his return home he checked himself into a hospital after experiencing some minor symptoms, officials said.

The first person infected in Egypt was a Chinese national who has since recovered.

The novel coronavirus originated in China last year and has so far killed over 3,385 people worldwide and infected over 98,000.

Court Sentences ‘Most Wanted Man’ To Death Over Terrorism

Court logo

 

 

An Egyptian court on Monday sentenced to death an ex-special forces officer turned Islamist militant and 36 other jihadists over several terror attacks, including an assassination bid on a former interior minister.

The Cairo criminal court condemned Hisham Ashmawy and 36 co-defendants to hang on 54 charges such as leading a terror group and targeting then-interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim in a 2013 suicide car bombing, a judicial source told AFP.

Ibrahim survived the bombing near his Cairo home but some 20 policemen and civilians were wounded.

The death sentences can be appealed.

Known locally as the “Ansar Beit al-Maqdis”, after the militant outfit he led in the restive Sinai region, Ashmawy later broke with the group after it pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in November 2014.

He was already sentenced to death in November by a military court over his role in 14 attacks including the 2014 killing of 22 soldiers at a border post with Libya.

Other charges against him included forming an Al-Qaeda aligned militant group in Libya.

In October 2018, the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) captured Ashmawy in the eastern city of Derna and flew him back to Egypt last May.

Ashmawy — dubbed Egypt’s “most wanted man” in local media — was an officer with Egypt’s special forces but discharged in 2012 over extremist religious views.

Egypt has for years been fighting a hardened insurgency in North Sinai that escalated after the army’s 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

In February 2018, the army and police launched a nationwide operation against militants focused on North Sinai.

AFP

Egypt Confirms Second Coronavirus Case

A member of a medical team takes a the temperature of an Iraqi traveller at the Shalamjah border crossing, some 15 kms southeast of the city of Basra, upon his return from Iran on February 21, 2020. Hussein FALEH / AFP

 

Egypt on Monday reported its second case of novel coronavirus, more than two weeks after announcing the first confirmed infection in Africa.

The foreigner is showing “minor symptoms” and has been quarantined, the ministry and the World Health Organization said in a joint statement.

Other people who had contact with the patient are undergoing medical tests, it added.

Egypt announced its first confirmed case of novel coronavirus on February 14.

The patient, a Chinese national, was released last week after recovering, the statement said.

Cairo has been cooperating with French and Canadian authorities after they both announced seven confirmed cases of the virus from travellers coming from Egypt.

With the number of cases rising in the Gulf, Qatar imposed a temporary ban on visitors coming from Egypt via transit points on Sunday citing the spread of COVID-19.

Kuwait stopped short of a flight restriction but added extra screening measures for travellers boarding their flights from Egypt.

Egyptian Health Minister Hala Zayed travelled to China on Sunday amid mounting criticisms and satirical posts on social media of her ministry’s handling of the outbreak.

At a press conference at Cairo airport, she praised Beijing’s efforts to contain the spread of the virus.

The global death toll from the epidemic surpassed 3,000 on Monday after dozens more were killed in China and cases soared around the world with a second fatality on US soil.

 

AFP

Ex-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Who Ruled For Over 30 Years, Dies At 91

A file photo taken on April 23, 2008, shows Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak addresses a press conference following talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the chancellery in Berlin. Egypt’s former long-time president Hosni Mubarak died on February 25, 2020, at the age 91 at Cairo’s Galaa military hospital. PHOTO: John MACDOUGALL / AFP

 

Egypt’s former long-time president Hosni Mubarak died Tuesday at age 91 at Cairo’s Galaa military hospital, his family and state TV said.

His son Alaa Mubarak tweeted that “this morning my father, president Mubarak, passed away”.

Mubarak’s brother-in-law, General Mounir Thabet, told AFP that the family was at the hospital and that the presidential office would organise the funeral.

Mubarak had long been battling an illness and recently been admitted to an intensive care unit.

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He took power in 1981, following the assassination of former president Anwar al-Sadat, and remained head of state for three decades.

A file photo taken on May 17, 2008, shows Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (L) meeting US President George W. Bush (C) and First Lady Laura Bush (R) during a reception ceremony at Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport. PHOTO: Jim WATSON / AFP

 

He was overthrown after three weeks of mass protests that started on January 25, 2011.

His toppling came amid mounting popular anger triggered partly by rampant police brutality and by 2010 parliamentary elections which were widely slammed as rigged.

Mubarak faced multiple charges after his overthrow, including over the deaths of protesters in 2011 and corruption.

After years of protracted trials and legal proceedings, he was acquitted on most charges.

Under Mubarak’s 30-year-rule, Egyptians lived under emergency laws that gave sweeping powers to the country’s security agencies.

The former president had survived multiple assassination attempts including one by Islamist militants in 1995 in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

AFP

Egypt Court Acquits Mubarak’s Sons Over Stock Exchange Case

(L to R) Alaa and Gamal Mubarak, sons of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, sit inside the defendants’ cage at the Police Academy courthouse in Cairo on February 22, 2020. 
AFP

 

An Egyptian court on Saturday acquitted two sons of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and six others in a case known in the Egyptian media as stock exchange manipulation.

A judicial official told AFP that the Cairo criminal court decided to acquit Alaa and Gamal Mubarak and the other defendants of any wrongdoing in the case.

Mubarak’s sons were arrested in September 2018 for alleged stock market manipulations were released on bail days later.

Among those acquitted with them was prominent businessman Hassan Heikal, son of the late writer Mohammed Hassanein Heikal.

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Since the 2011 ouster of Hosni Mubarak, a number of legal proceedings have been launched against the three-decade ruler and his relatives.

The “stock exchange manipulation” case as it is known in Egypt dates back to 2012 when Egypt’s state prosecutor referred the six suspects to court “for illegally obtaining more than two billion Egyptian pounds ($128.5 million)”.

Mubarak’s sons were accused of “profiting and obtaining illegal financial gains” from the sale of a bank.

The verdicts put an end to the judicial proceedings against Mubarak and his sons.

AFP

Egypt Records First Coronavirus Case In Africa

This photo taken on January 28, 2020 shows medical staff members cheering up a patient infected by the novel coronavirus in an isolation ward at a hospital in Zouping in China’s easter Shandong province.  STR / AFP

 

Egypt’s health ministry on Friday confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus, making it the first in Africa.

The sufferer was not Egyptian, the ministry said in a statement, without specifying the nationality.

“The ministry has taken preventative measures and is monitoring the patient… who is stable,” said health ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed.

Egyptian authorities had notified the World Health Organization and the patient been placed in quarantined isolation in hospital.

The death toll from the epidemic virus has neared 1,400 cases, almost exclusively in China where it was first identified.

Deep trade links with China and often overstretched healthcare systems have raised concerns about the capacity of African countries to respond to an outbreak.

Earlier this month, Egypt suspended all flights on its national carrier to China. They will remain grounded until the end of the month.

Three hundred and one Egyptians were evacuated from Wuhan, epicentre of the virus in China, and have remained in quarantine for 14 days.

AFP

Egypt Court Bans Teacher For Harassing 120 Pupils

 

An Egyptian court has upheld a teaching ban against an elementary school teacher accused of sexually harassing 120 female pupils, the education ministry said Monday. 

The incidents date to 2013, when complaints were lodged against the maths teacher at a school in Alexandria, said the ministry’s undersecretary Youssef al-Deeb.

“The teacher was fired from the school back then,” Deeb told AFP.

The Supreme Administrative Court on Sunday rejected the teacher’s appeal against a lower court’s decision permanently banning him from teaching, he added.

Elementary schools in Egypt teach children between the ages of six and 12.

Sexual harassment is highly prevalent in Egypt.

United Nations surveys have found that most Egyptian women have been subject to harassment, ranging from catcalling to pinching and groping.

Egyptian authorities have criminalised sexual harassment since 2014 but many women complain that the problem remains rampant.

On Sunday, Education Minister Tarek Shawky told a private TV channel that his ministry “is doing a lot to confront sexual harassment but (the efforts) are not made public for privacy concerns.”

AFP