Last Update 19:42
Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Egyptian cabinet dismisses reports on closing schools, universities over coronavirus concerns

All precautionary measures, including sterilisation, face masks, and social distancing regulations, are adopted at educational facilities

Ahram Online , Wednesday 4 Nov 2020
Egypt
Egyptian high school students wear protective face masks as they attend the first day of final exams, amid concerns over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Cairo, Egypt June 21, 2020. (Photo: Reuters)
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The Egyptian cabinet dismissed reports schools and universities nationwide will be closed starting mid-November in anticipation of a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The education and higher education ministries said education facilities are operating as usual, reported a cabinet statement on Wednesday.

The two ministries told the cabinet they are following daily health reports from nationwide educational facilities in coordination with the related authorities.

All precautionary measures, including sterilisation, face masks, and social distancing regulations, are adopted at educational facilities, the statement added.

The current school year started last month under a hybrid system of online and face-to-face classes to limit the density at classrooms and lecture halls.

Egypt has so far reported a total of 108,122 infections since the outbreak began in February, including 6,305 fatalities.

Although the reported infection rate has been low since August, the government has recently urged caution to spare the country any spike in the infections that could lead to a second wave of the pandemic, which many European countries and the US have experienced recently.

In October, Health Minister Zayed said Egypt will not be reinstating a full or partial lockdown if coronavirus infections surge once again, but instead will be responding to surges in cases within localised population clusters.

Egypt began the move towards a gradual reopening of its economy in June, easing the pandemic-related restrictions including lifting a night-time curfew, reopening restaurants and places of worship, and resuming educational activities at schools and universities.

During a cabinet meeting on Monday, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly criticised what he called "a lack of adherence" by citizens to precautionary measures against the coronavirus, giving warning of reinstating "some previous tough measures."

Minister Zayed told the meeting there are signs that a second wave of the pandemic will hit some Arab and Middle East countries.

In March, Egypt suspended in-person classes at all schools and universities well before the end of the last academic year, as part of sweeping anti-coronavirus measures.

It introduced a new research paper system as an alternative to written and oral exams for all grades, except for final-year students, who sat for in-person exams in June and July. 

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