Egypt to allow funeral prayers in large mosques, implements WHO guidelines to face Omicron: Cabinet

Amr Kandil , Monday 6 Dec 2021

Egypt has decided to allow funeral prayers inside large mosques that are authorised to hold the weekly Friday prayers, under anti-coronavirus precautionary measures, for the first time since the start of the pandemic early last year.

Muslims wearing protective face masks do the Friday prayers inside Al-Azhar mosque in the old Islamic area of Cairo while Egypt ramps up its efforts to slow down the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Cairo, Egypt March 20, 2020 (Photo: Reuters)

The government announced the decision during a meeting of the Supreme Committee for the Management of the Coronavirus Crisis headed by Prime Minister Mostafa Mabdouly on Monday.

The decision was issued in accordance with a request by the Ministry of Religious Endowments, a Cabinet statement read.

Egypt closed mosques for few months in 2020, and later allowed open-air funeral prayers only in mosques that have courtyards.

Starting this month, Egypt is barring unvaccinated people from entering government institutions, and starting last month, unvaccinated state employees are no longer allowed into their workplaces without presenting negative PCR tests.  

Implementing WHO guidelines to face Omicron

Egypt is working to implement all the recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO) to face the new coronavirus variant Omicron and prevent it from spreading, acting Health Minister Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar said during the meeting on Monday.

Receiving the vaccine remains necessary to face the new variant and limit its impact, Abdel-Ghaffar said.

The WHO has reiterated that the Omicron variant can be detected with a PCR test and that the variant is spreading more among those who are not vaccinated, Abdel-Ghaffar said.

Although Egypt has repeatedly affirmed that it has not yet detected any Omicron case, Canada and Kazakhstan have announced the suspension of flights to the country over Omicron fears.

Qatar has also been imposing a seven-day hotel quarantine period on fully vaccinated travellers with pre-approved and on-arrival visas arriving from Egypt since 26 November.

Switzerland, on the other hand, has revoked a 10-day quarantine requirement for travellers from all countries on its quarantine list – Egypt, Malawi, the UK, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands – starting Saturday.

Almost 100 million vaccines in Egypt

Egypt has been supplied with around 98.4 million doses of different coronavirus vaccines, whether wholly made or in the form of raw materials, since the start of the pandemic, Abdel-Ghaffar said during the meeting.

Around 51 million doses are ready for use, and about 48 million single doses have been administered, Abdel-Ghaffar said.

Around 513,000 people under 18 years of age have registered to receive the vaccine, of which about 261,500 have been vaccinated, Abdel-Ghaffar said.

Egypt has allowed registration for people aged 15 to 18 years old since November to receive Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. Later in the same month, Egypt also approved lowering the vaccination age limit to 12 years old for the US vaccine.

Egypt has also authorised priority groups, including medical personnel, to register to receive a booster shot.

Since the beginning of its vaccination campaign early this year, Egypt has imported doses of the Sinopharm, Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Sputnik V, Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

Egypt has also locally produced millions of doses of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine.

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