The regime’s coronavirus measures stoke fear in Egypt

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While the Egyptian regime’s decisions and harsh measures to confront the new coronavirus continue, observers say that the measures taken by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi aim mainly to create fear rather than being in the framework of efforts to limit the coronavirus outbreak. These doubts came with the Egyptian Ministry of Health’s announcement of official infection figures during the past few days, the largest since the virus began spreading in the country. The number of infected (officially) has reached 1,560, including 103 deaths and 305 recoveries. During the past few days, the Egyptian regime has paved the way for more severe decisions than the night curfew and the closure of markets, shops and places of worship. The Minister of State for Information, Osama Heikal, warned that authorities may implement a complete curfew this weekend.

Egyptian newspapers and websites have also published news about a government decision to ban the export of body bags and 17 other medical and preventive items, while other sites have reported on a legal fatwa on fasting for the month of Ramadan. Although the procedures of the Egyptian government have not really differed from international measures, they have caused controversy among Egyptians about the purpose behind them, as some describe them as “an industry of fear,” while others assert that they are the same precautionary measures being taken by most countries around the world. Observers noted that the Egyptian regime has issued orders to abide by the night time curfew but not issued an order to stay at home.

Some American states have seen more casualties than the numbers (officially announced) in Egypt, and authorities in those countries have issued stay at home orders and not a curfew. This stay home order means not leaving the house except to purchase essentials. It also recommends taking precautionary measures when leaving the house, including keeping a two-metre distance between individuals. Activists and bloggers have posted pictures of crowds of people on transportation during the day.

During a press conference held by the Minister of Health to raise awareness of the coronavirus, large numbers and crowds of journalists attended without taking any precautionary measures. Activists considered that the pictures from this conference indicate that the Egyptian regime is not serious about confronting the novel coronavirus. On the other hand, the video clips posted by Twitter users show that the Egyptian police arrested a number of citizens who violated the curfew. Some citizens reported that they were fined EGP 4,000 ($254) whilst going out to buy food and basic supplies.

Observers say the regime is imposing control and creating fear, rather than trying to prevent coronavirus, because the regime fears a wave of public anger over its failure to tackle the coronavirus outbreak. Over the years, the Egyptian regime has neglected the development of the health sector and failed to invest in hospitals, and it is now afraid its failures in this field are being exposed.