Egypt and COVID-19: The economy is more important than people’s lives

The Egyptian regime has persistently refused to impose a general closure despite the government’s admission that infection rates are ten times more than the announced. According to announced government data, infection rates exceeded the barrier of 700 for the first time during the second wave of the pandemic, which means that the daily infection rate may exceed 7,000 cases.

Egypt expects that Egypt will reach an early peak, with 30,000 infected during the last week of this month and the first week of next January, based on four things.

  • The first factor: the regime adheres to the non-total or partial closure of government departments and educational and productive entities, in light of its continuous laxity in not imposing penalties for any violations of the precautionary measures.
  • The second: There is a lack of full monitoring yet of the number of casualties caused by the masses of people during the parliamentary elections period.
  • The third: The winter tourist and entertainment season started, especially in South Sinai, the Red Sea, Aswan, and Luxor.
  • The fourth: The second wave is afflicting Egypt with different features from the first. The infections appear to be more and faster spreading, which will certainly be reflected in the number of jumps, and deaths are more compared to the beginning of the first wave.

Regarding how to deal with these internal warnings and the possibility of new decisions, government sources said that these possibilities are still “extremely unlikely” at present, as well as stopping or suspending the study, in response to the same opinions expressed by the sovereign and security authorities and the ministries of the Economic Community. These parties see the need to deal calmly with citizens and economic interests in anticipation of the possibility of a social explosion due to low incomes and the citizens’ need for jobs and work in several daily jobs.

The sources attributed the decision to some sectors that were affected by the first hiatus due to the pandemic, and their failure to recover so far from the effects of lack of resources on the one hand, and decisions to dismiss and exclude hundreds of thousands of temporary workers, especially with the period of stoppage and the pandemic coinciding with the previous decision to stop construction at the level of the Republic. The sources added that there is a desire to reassure local and foreign investors in terms of the state’s continued support for them and enabling them to do business in return for the continued injection of funds and job opportunities in the Egyptian market.

Despite this, the Egyptian Stock Exchange was forced to suspend its trading on Monday, after its indices fell by more than five per cent, due to fears of the spread of a new strain of coronavirus. On the other hand, the Ministry of Health continues to confirm that it can absorb the expected infection numbers with the onset of the winter season and proceed with studies in government hospitals.

However, it has set several conditions for its continued capacity. Chief among them is the rapid activation, when needed, of the isolation complex that was set up by the armed forces in its exhibition complex in New Cairo and was not used. In addition to this was entering university and military hospitals in various governorates for service when needed, and emphasising the speedy closure of schools, colleges, and institutes in which cases appear, with the return of reducing the number of working hours of commercial complexes and entertainment venues, especially cafes, gyms, and community stadiums.

The Ministry of Health also decided to stop all kinds of leave for medical staff in all hospitals and health units affiliated with it. It stressed not to grant or renew holidays for doctors, nursing staff, technicians, administrators, and all workers in the health sector, as part of the ministry’s plan to confront the second wave of the outbreak.

On the medical level, Egypt is concerned about a major crisis that threatens a catastrophe, represented in the decline of the general reserves of liquefied oxygen in all governorates to its lowest level in 10 years and to a percentage not exceeding 10 per cent of the required reserve. For his part, Ashraf Hatem, a former Minister of Health and a member of the Scientific Committee at the Ministry of Higher Education, justified the failure to take a decision to close by saying that the closure will not reduce the number of infections. He added: “We are in the second wave of the coronavirus, and we still appeal to the Egyptians to distance themselves, wear masks, and adhere to personal hygiene so that infections decrease.”