A still photo of Egypt's Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, centre, among other ministers during their press conference on Saturday
Egypt's Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said on Saturday that President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s decision to close schools and universities is a precautionary measure against the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
El-Sisi had earlier on the same day decided to suspend classes for two weeks, starting Sunday 15 March, during his meeting with Madbouly.
The decision is part of "the country's comprehensive plan to deal with any possible repercussions of the novel coronavirus," the Egyptian presidency said in a statement.
During a press conference held on Saturday, Madbouly added that the two-week suspension will see the sterilisation of all educational establishments and other facilities.
Madbouly said that the Interior Ministry will take all measures to close education centres for the same period. He added that all sports activities will also be suspended for two weeks.
"According to the health ministry's latest figures, Egypt's total number of infected cases of coronavirus has reached 109," said Madbouly, adding that some patients have fully recovered.
A day earlier, the health ministry stated the total infected cases in Egypt was 91, of which 32 later tested negative and 21 have since recovered and were released from a quarantine hospital.
Since its outbreak in December 2019, coronavirus (COVID-19) has infected more than 150,094 people globally and killed more than 5,617.
Minister of Education Tarek Shawky said seven students -- out of the total 109 -- have contracted the virus.
Yesterday, the health ministry reported that a student was infected a day after the campus of his Zamalek school had been closed as a precautionary measure. The student contracted the virus from his parent, who had had contact with a foreigner who tested positive for the virus.
Madbouly noted that the state had prepared three phases to combat the infection.
"With the number of cases amounting to 109, the government had to move to the second phase, by suspending classes, especially after detecting four cases at schools," he said.
Madbouly indicated that the government is working according to a scientific plan, and all steps are taken according to the developments of the situation. He affirmed the government's keenness to provide various means of prevention and treatment.
"The chances of contracting the virus in Egypt are less than in other countries, with youth forming the largest percentage of society," Madbouly said, adding that 25 percent of the Egyptian population are in schools and universities.
According to the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS), Egypt's population hit 100 million people in February, 61 percent of whom are under 30 years old.
"I advise the elderly to avoid crowded public places, because they are at greater risk of infection," he added.
Madbouly called on Egyptians to avoid gatherings, stressing the importance of attention to hygiene, public health and the various guidelines necessary for the prevention of coronavirus.
"We are also adopting preventive measures regarding gatherings in mosques and churches," he added.
Egypt's religious endowment ministry announced last week that the duration of prayer services in mosques would be restricted to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
The ministry, moreover, announced on Saturday that the annual Islamic Israa and Miraj celebrations will be cancelled this year for the same reason.
"The government will not hesitate to take any other precautionary or preventive measures until this difficult time passes safely for Egyptians" he said, adding that the government and people share the responsibility of protecting themselves and others.
President El-Sisi decided on Saturday to allocate EGP 100 billion to finance the comprehensive plan and the precautionary measures to stop the spread of the virus.