Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 28 October 2020

Egypt reports dramatic fall in coronavirus cases

Interior Ministry said 66,836 public transport drivers have been ticketed over the past month for not wearing masks or allowing passengers to ride without one

Egypt appears to be bringing the battle against the coronavirus pandemic under control for now, posting steadily declining numbers of Covid-19 cases and fatalities as life in the country of 100 million people continues to move closer to normality.

The Health Ministry said late on Tuesday that a total of 94,752 Covid-19 cases had been recorded since the pandemic began in mid-February. Deaths from the disease reached 4,912, it added.

The actual number of cases and fatalities is believed to be much higher due to the large number of patients who show mild symptoms of the disease and are independently treated as well as the low number of tests conducted. However, the figures released daily by the ministry are a reliable indicator of the infections curve.

In the eight days up to Tuesday, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases has declined every day, going from 465 on July 28 to just 112 on Tuesday, a staggering drop over an eight-day period. The figures are a far cry from June, the worst month of the epidemic in Egypt, when the number of cases averaged about 1,500 a day.

The number of fatalities during the July 28-August 4 period has been significantly down, although somewhat erratic. They ranged from 24 on Tuesday to 46 on July 30. They compare favourably to an average of 80-plus deaths during the first half of July and most of June.

The greatly reduced number of cases and fatalities in the last week followed the near-complete reopening of the country in late June, a move that led many to fear that the decision was hasty, put the economy before people’s well-being and could fuel the pandemic.

In the end, it seems the government was right and its forecast that the curve would be flattened by the second half of July was validated.

However, Egyptians are continuing to embrace a casual approach to the pandemic, raising fears that a second wave like the ones sweeping countries elsewhere in the world could hit in the autumn or winter. The government has repeatedly told Egyptians that, in the absence of a vaccine, they must learn to live with Covid-19 while social distancing, wearing masks and observing hygienic practices.

But most Egyptians ignore these rules, prompting the government to warn last week it would reintroduce “severe” measures if the number of cases rise again.

Providing evidence of the public’s negligence, the Interior Ministry, which oversees Egypt’s large police force, said on Tuesday that 66,836 public transport drivers have been ticketed over the past month for not wearing masks or allowing passengers to ride without one.

It said the police also fined 256 cafes and 9,912 stores nationwide for flouting regulations on business hours introduced as part of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Updated: August 5, 2020 09:41 PM

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