Egypt takes urgent measures against Covid-19 as death toll rises
CAIRO - Egypt has taken tougher measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus after the number of confirmed cases has risen to 166 with four deaths in the country.
Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said on Monday his government will suspend all passenger flights to and from Egyptian airports.
"The flights will be suspended starting from March 19 noon until March 31," he said in a televised press conference, adding that the suspension period would be also used to sterilise hotels and tourist attractions in the country.
Madbouly added that that the government will also reduce the presence of government employees in order to control the spread of the virus.
He said that there is complete coordination with all state agencies to secure food stuff and goods, noting that Egypt has enough goods that are sufficient for several months to come.
The prime minister also stressed that coordination was made between the Minister of Interior and Minister of Supply to tackle, with utmost severity and firmness, the practices that individuals might take to hide some goods or increase the prices of certain items.
Madbouly urged Egyptians to show responsibility and not to undervalue the danger of the virus, pointing out the measures against the virus will cost the Egyptian economy heavy losses.
Meanwhile, several governorates, including Egypt's two most populous governorates Cairo and Giza, banned on Monday smoking water pipes in coffee shops and public places in a move to control the spread of the coronavirus.
The governorates also decided to ban weekly local markets to reduce gatherings in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The recent measures come as Egypt confirmed on Monday that two cases of COVID-19 died and 40 new cases were detected, bringing the confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the country to 166.
In a statement, spokesman for Egyptian Health Ministry Khaled Mujahid said a 72-year-old German man and 50-year-old Egyptian died, raising the COVID-19 death toll in Egypt to four.
Since the emergence of the coronavirus, Egypt has adopted an integrated plan which covers early detection, quarantine and treatment measures, as well as raising public awareness.
Egypt decided on Saturday to suspend school and university classes as well as all sports activities for two weeks in an attempt to confront the spread of the virus.
Also on Saturday, Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi allocated 100 billion Egyptian pounds (6.35 billion U.S. dollars) to finance the anti-COVID-19 comprehensive plan and its precautionary measures.
The money will be used to face any repercussions that will occur in Egypt as a result of the emerging coronavirus, including the expected economic damage.
Egypt previously decided to hold up all events with large gatherings of people until further notice.