Egyptian fears of a second wave of coronavirus (COVID-19) have risen, especially with the announcement of an entire soccer team that is infected with coronavirus. These fears come amid escalating government warnings of laxity in precautionary measures. For weeks, experts and specialists have been saying that Egypt may witness a second wave of the virus. There is no scientific definition for a “second wave” in the world of viruses. Still, it is often understood as “the re-emergence of new virus infections after they almost completely receded.” It also means “a new mutation in the virus, which causes new infections.”
The announcement of the infection of 12 players and four members of the Egyptian soccer team’s administrative apparatus was the beginning of the emergence of this wave, which is expected to be stronger than the first wave. These infections represented a new crisis for the Football League’s return, which resumed its matches last week, especially in light of the Football Association’s refusal to postpone al-Masry’s game with Haras el-Hodoud (borders’ guardians). On the other hand, the Egyptian club announced that it would not participate in the match to preserve the lives of the players, who entered into home isolation for two weeks, according to the protocol decided by the Ministry of Health. The club’s president Samir Halabiya said, “I do not have players participating in the match, and the coach of the team is in the quarantine because of his infection with the virus,” and he asked: “How will I play the match?” The president of Zamalek club Mortada Mansour launched a sharp attack on the return of the league, describing it as a “Corona League,” demanding that this season be cancelled to save the players’ lives.
The same thing was requested by other technical directors in the league, including Ehab Jalal, who called on the authorities to reconsider the decision to return the league and sports activity. He said that the resumption of sports activity would cause an increase in the number of corona infections. The Minister of Sports Ashraf Sobhi did not make any comment about the crisis. But activists on social networking sites mentioned him in a previous statement. He said that if coronavirus got out of control and infections increased, then the decision to resume sports activities would be reversed.
In conjunction with the league crisis, the Egyptian Minister of Health issued a strong warning to Egyptians, calling on them to adhere to masks and preventive and precautionary measures, especially after the high frequency of gatherings during the recent period during Eid al-Adha holiday.
The official numbers of corona infection gradually increased, according to official data issued by the Ministry of Health, and exceeded 30 per cent in recent days. Questions arise about the validity of the official figures announced by the Ministry of Health. Many Egyptians, when infected with the virus, prefer to adhere to home quarantine without going to hospitals. The peak spread of the disease in Egypt is determined according to the numbers of declared deaths, “which cannot be interpreted,” according to health experts.
Meanwhile, sources revealed that the authorities had reopened some quarantine hospitals again after they stopped receiving patients, including al-Nujila Hospital in Matrouh Governorate (north of the country), May 15 Hospital (north of Cairo), and Qaha Hospital (north of Cairo).
According to Sherif Wadih, an advisor to the Minister of Health for Emergencies in Egypt, studies and expectations indicate that Egypt will experience a backlash during the first half of August, which will lead to an increase in the number of cases of coronavirus. He said, “This occurs due to the citizen’s failure to abide by the preventive steps due to the feeling of safety.” He explained that “the second wave occurs when the numbers of infections drop to the bottom and the situation returns to normal without any recorded cases. Then, the virus returns to spread again.”
To avoid the occurrence of a backlash on Egypt, and the rise in infections again, Wadih stressed the need to exercise caution and not be complacent with the precautionary measures to avoid reaching what is known as the aftershock on Egypt. He demanded urgent measures to avoid what happened with previous countries and prevent the virus’ vigorous return. He stated that all viruses that spread at any time have a second wave. Therefore, the second wave of coronavirus is expected to occur in Egypt in a significant way.
According to government sources, there is no return to a state of closure: Egyptians must live with the virus and take precautionary measures including social distancing. The Egyptian authorities fear severe economic impacts if the country shuts down or a partial curfew is re-imposed on citizens again, especially in the fields of investment and tourism.