Cairo hit hard by resurgent coronavirus in Egypt

Egypt's economy survived the first round of the pandemic lockdown, a second one, though unlikely, could cause a meltdown

People walk at a local market as few of them wear protective face masks amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Cairo, Egypt November 23, 2020. Picture taken November 23, 2020. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Egypt’s health minister said on Wednesday that Greater Cairo was the worst hit of all Egyptian provinces by the resurgent coronavirus pandemic as the country witnesses an uptick in the number of daily cases.

The minister told the Cabinet’s weekly meeting that the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, Egypt’s second largest, came second, an official statement said. She named four of Egypt’s 27 provinces – South Sinai, Minya, Suez and Ismailia – as the only ones witnessing a decline in the number of Covid-19 cases.

The statement did not give a breakdown for every province in Egypt, which fears a second wave of the coronavirus could stretch the country’s medical care resources and batter the economy, which avoided a meltdown during the pandemic when it first hit in February and led to a March-July lockdown.

Health Ministry figures for daily Covid-19 cases have recorded an uptick in recent days, after summer months saw record lows that allowed life to return to normal across the country. The number of cases has recently averaged between 300 and 350, with mortalities hovering under just 20 a day. These compared to up to 1,700 cases and 100 deaths daily in June.

The ministry says as many as 113,742 people have contracted Covid-19 since the pandemic reached Egypt in February, with 6,573 deaths recorded in total. These are relatively low numbers given the size of Egypt. Authorities acknowledge that the number of cases could be much higher, but the official figures provide a reflection of the infection trends.

The health minister’s comments on Wednesday came one day after President Abdel-Fattah El Sisi made a personal appeal to Egyptians in a televised address to take preventive measures more seriously, including social distancing and wearing masks while indoors or on public transport.

“The real vaccine is to deal with the epidemic with awareness,” he said.