Several Egyptian weekly newspapers decided last week to suspend their printed editions temporarily over coronavirus outbreak in the country, replacing them with online editions and social media presence.
“Sawt Al-Azhar” or “Al-Azhar's Voice”, which is the official weekly newspaper of Al-Azhar institution, Egypt’s most prominent Islamic Sunni institution, was the first major media outlet to announce last week that it was suspending its printed edition temporarily, depending instead on its website and PDF copy.
“Sawt Al-Azhar newspaper's board and editorial board believed that teleworking to facilitate issuing the newspaper online was a better option and so the newspaper decided to suspend its printed edition temporarily and to expand its online services to serve the readers in Egypt and the Islamic world,” Sawt Al-Azhar’s editorial statement read.
Soon lesser circulated weekly newspapers, such as Veto, Al-Youm Al-Gadid and Iskan Misr, toed the line, putting their weight on their websites and PDFs.
Rumours have been circulating for a week that newspapers nationwide will suspend their printed editions.
On Friday, however, the government refuted the rumours.
Al-Ahram Establishmet's CEO Abdel-Mohsen Salama told E3lam.org on Friday that he supported the temporary suspension of printed editions of newspapers even if they are state-owned because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“There are other alternatives to replace the printed editions, such as social media,” he added.
Egypt's National Press Authority held on Saturday a meeting attended by state-owned newspapers' CEOs to discuss the recent developments concerning the coronavirus crisis. According to the statement issued following the meeting, the newspapers will continue to go to print as the press institutions have enough printing and publishing materials for the next six months.
It was also agreed in the meeting that PDF versions of the publications be posted on their official websites at 6 pm every day.
According to the latest numbers released by the health ministry on Friday, Egypt has officially registered 536 with a death toll of 30 and 116 fully recovered patients.
On Tuesday, the Egyptian government announced that it imposed a partial curfew to curb the spread of the coronavirus from 7 pm to 6 am daily. Members of Egypt’s Journalists Syndicate and media profession syndicates are exempted from the curfew if they have their syndicate ID.
It also issued a host of decisions banning public gatherings, such as prayers and sports clubs activities.
Many newspapers and publications like glossy magazines stopped their printed editions temporarily, opting instead to depend solely on online outlets, such as is the case in various countries suffering from coronavirus outbreak, such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Oman.