President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi
In his first public statement on the coronavirus situation in Egypt, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi said on Tuesday that the measures taken until now have helped bring the infection under control.
“I want to assure all citizens that, largely due to the efforts exerted by all state institutions, the situation is so far under control,” said Al-Sisi. He added that “the precautionary measures adopted to stem the tide of the virus aim to protect citizens, and the country as a whole. With the help of citizens, we can get out of this crisis and control the infection, and I want to tell citizens that only serious commitment can lead to an easing of measures taken in this respect.”
On 25 March, the government imposed a two-week curfew which is now expected to be extended for another two weeks.
Al-Sisi said he is not in favour of imposing a complete lockdown. “This will bring daily life to a complete halt,” said Al-Sisi. He added that current measures, particularly the curfew, aim to limit the gathering of crowds.
“I am sure the Egyptian people are again ready to offer sacrifices,” said Al-Sisi. “The Egyptian people offered many martyrs during the fight against terrorism, and endured the economic reforms, we now face the challenge of exiting this crisis.
“We have already achieved many successes in fighting coronavirus and this has won international praise… I am sure that through national unity and cooperation we will be able to pass through these hard times.
“Everyone should be aware that the virus will have a negative impact, particularly on the economy.”
He pointed out the state has taken several measures to mitigate the economic cost.
“We have taken many measures to help the tourism sector in particular. Let me assure you that there will be no layoffs in this sector. We have also decided to give LE500 to day labourers and seasonal workers,” said Al-Sisi.
The president dismissed rumours that the government is hiding information on the coronavirus.
“We have no interest in hiding. Attempts to raise doubts about the real number of coronavirus infections are entirely unfounded,” said Al-Sisi. “The state is keen to make all facts public.”
Al-Sisi said the government was the victim of repeated campaigns to spread rumours and foment frustration.
“The forces of evil never stop their campaigns to undermine the state. They tried for 50 years, until they reached power, and then we saw what they wanted to do.”
Al-Sisi said the government is positioned to meet all basic needs.
“We have enough stocks of basic goods and commodities to meet the needs of citizens in the coming period,” he said.
Al-Sisi also praised the Interior Ministry for implementing the curfew.
“The Interior Ministry alone was able to implement this measure and needed no additional help,” said Al-Sisi.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 9 April, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly