Although the measures taken by the Egyptian government over the past week to contain the spread of the coronavirus have been welcomed by MPs, some say it is also necessary to impose a partial curfew to stem the spread of the virus.
Inas Abdel-Halim, an MP and physician from Mansura city, said in a statement that a two-week curfew from 6pm to 6am would go a long way to help authorities fight the virus.
"The partial curfew would be a temporary measure that would help state authorities carry out the sterilisation and isolation efforts necessary to stem any possible [large outbreak] of the virus," said Abdel-Halim, adding that, “The partial curfew would also help prevent the virus from entering a terrible and deadly phase as we see in Italy, Iran and France."
Deputy parliament speaker Soliman Wahdan said the government of Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly has been pro-active in combating the spread of the coronavirus.
"The government's approach was also very necessary in order to not let the country face the disastrous consequences we saw in Italy and Iran," said Wahdan. “But in the battle against the coronavirus, I think we also need to take other emergency measures such as imposing a partial curfew from 7pm to 6am, which would help prevent an outbreak on a mass scale.”
"Other measures should include the Ministry of Industry allocating complete lines for the production of hospital beds, sterilisation materials, drugs, and breathing equipment," said Wahdan, adding that “youth centres should be also used as field hospitals in emergency cases."
Magdy Malak, an MP from Minya governorate, said, “A partial curfew would help prevent Egypt from reaching a crisis point, which would be having 1,000 citizens infected with the coronavirus."
"We are now in control of the virus, but we need a partial curfew to eliminate it completely."
Two MPs, however, said they are not in favour of imposing a curfew.
Galal Awara, an MP from Tanta, said a curfew would be a premature measure that would be difficult on millions of citizens.
"The curfew would push them to hoard goods and this is not good for the economy, and I think that the recent measures, such as suspending flights and tourist traffic and shutting down malls, restaurants and cafes from 7pm to 6am, will help contain the virus to zero in the next few days," Awara said.
Ahmed El-Sigini, head of parliament’s local administration committee, said a curfew would have grave economic and social consequences.
“So, it is not an easy decision, but there could be a limited number of curfew hours, which would help deter gatherings at night and prevent any spread of the virus," said El-Sigini.
Egypt's parliament has taken a number of measures in recent days to protect MPs from contracting the coronavirus.
"MPs, media correspondents, and visitors will be allowed to enter parliament only after they test negative, and those who test positive will be sent to hospital," said parliament's secretary-general Mahmoud Fawzi on Saturday.
Parliament is scheduled to hold plenary meetings 29 March.
Egypt has so far registered 294 coronavirus cases, including 10 deaths.