Tens of confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases had been detected among Egyptian high-school students on the first day of their final exams on Sunday, an official said.
More than 650,000 Egyptian students started the end-of-year Thanaweya Amma exams nationwide on Sunday amid heightened precautionary measures to rein in the spread of the coronavirus.
At least three confirmed cases were detected among the students, said Mohamed Dahy, Head of the General Health Insurance Authority.
Those had been in home isolation after they were diagnosed with the respiratory illness that was due to end next week, but they decided to take the exams despite having the option to postpone, Dahy said in TV comments on Monday morning.
Their exams have been postponed to the second round set to begin in August, according to Dahy.
Three other pupils who had come in contact with infected family members also had their exams delayed.
Another 29 students either had to sit their exams in designated isolation rooms at schools or had been transferred to isolation hospitals after showing symptoms, including high temperature.
Infected students or those who have an infected family member are allowed to postpone their exams to the second round without having any marks deducted.
Pupils concerned about their safety also have the option to postpone their exams to the next academic year.
Many parents as well as the Egyptian Doctors Syndicate have called for postponing the exams over concerns about the students’ safety amid a surge in coronavirus cases. Others called for replacing the exams with an online research system adopted for other school grades.
The education minister had repeatedly said that the major exams, that had already been delayed by two weeks amid virus restrictions, cannot be postponed further, asserting that authorities are taking necessary precautions.
Egypt has suspended school and university classes since March as part of the sweeping anti-virus measures, and introduced a new online research paper system as an alternative to the final exams of most other school grades.
As of Sunday, Egypt had registered 55,233 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 2,193 fatalities.