A man wearing a protective face mask walks in Cairo, amidst concerns about the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Egypt, May 4, 2020 (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt is not ruling out the possibility of imposing stricter measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus outbreak if the infection toll continues to rise, Presidential Adviser for Health and Prevention Affairs Mohamed Awad Tag El-Din said late on Sunday.
In a phone call with private satellite channel Al-Hadath Al-Youm, Tag El-Din said the state could resort to stricter measures depending on the infection tally, signalling the possibility of a full lockdown.
Tag El-Din was responding to an earlier call by the head of the Doctors Syndicate’s Hussein Khairy to impose a two-week lockdown nationwide to curb the spread of the virus.
“People’s health is a priority for the state. The government is assessing all measures to protect citizens, the state and the economy under a highly balanced approach,” Tag El-Din said.
He said that all of the prime minister’s earlier statements indicate the possibility of introducing harsher measures in accordance with the situation and the need for such measures amid the rise in the number of cases.
The presidential advisor’s statements come few days after Egypt extended on Thursday a nationwide night-time curfew by two more weeks until the end of the holy month of Ramadan, yet indicated that the economy will be reopened despite the rising infection rate.
Egypt first hit its 1,000 benchmark on 4 April, with the infection tally continuing to rise despite restrictions imposed since March to stem the spread of the outbreak in the populous country.
The curfew was first introduced in March as part of a series of measures to curtail the spread of the virus, and has been extended twice since. Other measures include the shuttering of schools, universities and places of worship, and limitations on public gatherings.
The virus has so far infected over 9,000 people and claimed 525 lives since its outbreak in Egypt in mid-February.
Despite the rising tally, Egypt said it will have to coexist with the coronavirus pandemic starting from June, cabinet spokesman Nader Saad said on Thursday, as the country continues to push forward with efforts to open the economy after the end of Ramadan.
Egypt has signalled in the past few weeks that it is looking to pull back on some of the heavy restrictions introduced in recent months, and has urged people to maintain social distancing and other preventative measures when these changes are made.
In recent weeks, it has resumed a number of governmental services, including licensing for new vehicles as well as some court sessions.