Egypt suffers worst day so far for new coronavirus cases

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Egypt has announced 120 new cases of Covid-19, the deadly disease caused by coronavirus, its highest, one-day tally since the first confirmed case was announced nearly two months ago.

The latest figure took the number of confirmed Corvid-19 cases to 985.

Officials have warned that reaching the 1,000-case threshold would make it difficult to search, locate and test individuals who have been in contact with infected people, and that the number from then would increase dramatically, reaching 2,500 within two or three days.

Of the 985 confirmed cases, a total of 296 have either been treated and released from hospital or tested negative after initially testing positive.

Also on Friday, authorities raised the death toll from the disease by eight, taking it up to 66.

Egyptians buy bread from a bakery in  Cairo, Egypt. EPA

No lockdown yet

The threat of coronavirus to Egypt is compounded by the concentration of its 100 million population on less than 10 per cent of its land, and a public health sector has been neglected for decades until recently.

Seeking to reassure the public, officials have said only six quarantine hospitals have been used so far and that nearly 30 more had been readied to accommodate the expected increase in cases.

Private hospitals would join the national effort to contain the outbreak, while hotels and schools were being equipped to operate as hospitals, they said.

To limit the spread of the virus, the government has imposed a night-time curfew, halted international flights, and closed education institutions, places of worship, restaurants, cinemas and other public gathering places.

The authorities also called on people to observe precautions such as maintaining a distance and avoiding going outside as much as possible, sending out the message through radio and TV spots and on street billboards.

However, some Egyptians have taken a casual attitude towards the health threat, as seen when thousands flocked to beaches on the Red Sea and the Mediterranean, prompting authorities to close them.

The government has not yet suggested a complete lockdown, but some officials have hinted at harsher measures if the situation gets worse.

The government has additionally announced an economic stimulus package and pledged an additional 1 billion Egyptian pounds (Dh233.25 million) to the health sector.

Updated: April 3, 2020 11:57 PM

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