Egyptian Information Minister Osama Heikal said that the coronavirus is “currently under control” but that the government may resort to harsher measures if coronavirus infections in the country exceed a thousand cases.
Egypt introduced a two-week curfew on Wednesday, in effect from 7pm to 6am, as part of stricter measures to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
It had earlier suspended schools and universities and closed airports.
Egypt has logged 495 infections and 24 fatalities since the fast-spreading contagion first appeared in the country in mid-February.
“We are still seeking to maintain stability to stay at the second phase of the virus spread as much as possible, until the curve of infections either decreases or is maintained, so that it does not exceed 1,000 infections,” Heikal told Sada Al-Balad talk show by phone on Thursday
The harsher measures that may be necessary include a work shutdown, closure of roads or even the isolation of certain governorates, he said.
“We still don’t know when the crisis will be over. We were expecting the crisis to end by this month, then by the end of June and now even by the end of this year, but the scenario is still unclear,” Heikal added.
He said the government is considering the economic impact of the crisis in its budget, aiming to reduce the impact to the least possible level.
The World Health Organization said in a report on Thursday that Egypt’s “strong disease surveillance system” and contact tracing efforts have proved effective “in controlling and managing sporadic and clusters of cases before they can spread,” but that further efforts are needed
The UN body hailed progress made by Egyptian health authorities in expanding the number of laboratories that can test for the virus.