Coronavirus: Egypt reports 388 more infections in last 24 hours, a record high

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - The number of Covid-19 infections spiked again on Monday in Egypt, where authorities said a record, one-day high of 388 cases were diagnosed in the most populous Arab nation.

The new record, 30 more than the previous all-time high on Friday, is likely to raise questions whether tougher action is needed from the government to prevent the coronavirus pandemic from spiralling out of control. The spike, if sustained, could also force the government to reconsider plans for a gradual return to normalcy after the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan around April 22-23.

Already, authorities have warned that Egyptians needed to diligently observe the rules of social distancing, wear surgical masks in public and avoid large gatherings or face harsher and more sweeping measures. The government has had a nighttime curfew in place for more than a month and closed schools, universities, mosques and churches. It has also halted international air travel and closed restaurants, cafes, museums, historical sites and most public parks.

The government’s strategy in handling the outbreak is two-fold: to protect Egyptians against the virus through preventive measures and an intense media campaign familiarising the public with how the virus is transmitted and ways to fend off the disease. The second half of the strategy is to allow people to return to work to prevent the economy from a complete meltdown that would leave millions hungry and wipe out the hard-won economic successes gained from years of austerity and harsh reforms that won international accolades for their reach.

The Health Ministry on Monday said the number of detected Covid-19 cases to date has reached 7,201, of whom 1,730 have recovered. The number of fatalities stood at 452, a one-day increase of 16.

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The new record, the latest in a series of highs over the past two weeks, suggests that the outbreak has yet to peak, an ominous scenario in a country of 100 million and a health care system battered by decades of negligence. Fears of a wider spread of the virus are also fueled by the fact that Egyptians are cramped on less than 10 per cent of the country’s land and that a large segment of them lives in unhygienic conditions. The government has been reassuring Egyptians that it has the means and capabilities to handle higher numbers of infections if need be, arguing that it has only been using a fraction of the hospital capacity available.

Updated: May 6, 2020 12:23 AM

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