File photo: Cairo underground metro's third line (photo: Al-Ahram)
Egypt’s transport ministry has extended the operating hours for Cairo's underground Metro system starting Thursday, after authorities announced a nigh time curfew would now start one hour later.
Egypt on Wednesday announced that a nationwide night-time curfew imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus would be extended by 15 days until 23 April and would now start at 8pm.
The Metro's operating hours will now be prolonged by over an hour, with trains running until around 7:30pm. The start of operating hours remains unchanged at 6am.
On the Metro’s Line 1 (Helwan – El-Marg), the last train from Helwan station leaves at 7:15pm instead of 5pm, and from New Marg at 7:30pm instead of 5:20pm.
On the Metro’s Line 2 (Shobra El-Kheima – El-Mounib), the last train from both Shubra El-Kheima and El-Munib stations departs at 7:30pm instead of 5:30pm.
On the Metro’s Line 3 (Attaba – El-Shams Club), the last train departs from Al-Shams Club station at 7:15pm instead of 5:20pm, and from Attaba station at 7:45pm instead of 6pm.
Before the curfew, the regular operating hours of the Cairo Metro were between 5:15am to 1am.
Scenes of crowding in the Metro, especially hours before the curfew starts, have raised concerns among Egyptians about the high risk of virus transmission through the vital network which transports millions of commuters every day.
Minister of Transport Kamel El-Wazir dismissed earlier speculation about shutting down the underground system, saying that it is “safe and easy to control and sterilise,” assuring that the crowding issue was resolved by increasing the number of trains.
Authorities have amended curfew hours to “give citizens more time to return home, to alleviate congestion and pressure on both private and public transportation,” Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly explained.
The closure of schools and universities and the decision to slash the number of state employees going to work was also extended for the same period of 15 days, to lower the risk of virus transmission.
Flights to and from Egypt will remain suspended until 23 April.
Egypt has so far recorded 1,560 coronavirus cases, with the death toll climbing to 103.