Egyptian parliament to discuss legal amendments allowing govt to make wearing masks obligatory
Gamal Essam El-Din, , Tuesday 21 Apr 2020
The law is an amendment of the law regulating the prevention of epidemic diseases.

Mohamed Al-Amary, the head of parliament's health affairs committee, said on Tuesday that he has drafted a law that will help the state take greater precautionary measures necessary to contain the outbreak of the coronavirus.

According to Al-Amary, the law, signed by a tenth of the House of Representatives’ deputies, is an amendment to the law regulating the precautionary measures on the prevention of epidemic diseases, law number 137 of 1958.

"The amended law aims to reinforce the capacity of Egypt's health authorities in preventing a mass outbreak of epidemic diseases such as the coronavirus," said Al-Amary.

"The legislative amendment represents a quick response from MPs who want to contain the coronavirus infections in a more effective way."

According to the MP, the recent weeks have shown that the health ministry is in pressing need of greater powers to help it effectively contain the outbreak.

"As a result, I proposed amending articles 25 and 26 of the law on the prevention of epidemic diseases, and also adding three new articles to achieve the objectives required in this respect," said Al-Amary.

"First, the law will grant health authorities the power to make it obligatory for citizens to wear face masks and follow other preventive measures outside housing units and once the health minister finds it necessary to help stem the spread of the epidemic."

Al-Amary said the draft law states that citizens who refuse to wear face masks outside the home will be fined, in line with the rules and measures to be imposed by the minister of health in this respect.

The draft law also allows health authorities take the measures necessary to get rid of the bodies of citizens who die because of epidemic diseases.

"The law will state that the bodies of dead patients be buried under health supervision and in a way that prevents the spread of the epidemic and respects the dignity of the dead and religious and social traditions at the same time," said Al-Amary.

The two new articles aim at toughening penalties for violating the amended law.

"They will also toughen penalties against any acts that might block or postpone the burying of the corpses of citizens who die because of epidemic diseases such as the coronavirus," said Al-Amary.

Informed sources said Al-Amary's draft law could be discussed and approved in parliament's plenary meeting on Wednesday. They also revealed that MPs discussed the draft law in their meeting with Health Minister Hala Zayed on 13 April.