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Information Minister Under Self-Quarantine as COVID-19 Cases in Egypt Reach 50,000

Information Minister Under Self-Quarantine as COVID-19 Cases in Egypt Reach 50,000

Information Minister Osama Heikal donning a mask in a meeting with Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad. Photo courtesy of Heikal’s Facebook page.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Egypt continues to rise, with the Ministry of Health and Population’s official tally reaching 50,437 total cases of the highly transmissible virus on Thursday, 18 June. Meanwhile Minister of Information Osama Heikal has self-quarantined.

In its daily statement, the Ministry of Health announced 1,218 new COVID-19 infections and 88 related deaths, taking the total officially recorded death toll to 1,938. The total number of full recoveries has reached 15,528.

Despite the increase in the number of cases, including a new daily record being set, Egypt has taken a number of steps aimed at relaxing COVID-19 restrictions.

On Thursday 11 June, the Egyptian government announced that the nation-wide curfew would be shortened from 8PM-6AM to 8PM-4AM. Moreover, shops and commercial centres will be able to remain open for an additional hour, until 6PM each day.

Meanwhile, on Sunday 14 June, Egypt’s Minister of Civil Aviation announced that flights between Egypt and countries that will allow travel to and from it will resume on July 1 from all Egyptian airports. On the same day, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities released a video ad enticing tourists to Egypt’s most popular destinations in what appears to be a concerted effort to resuscitate the sector.

Last week, Egyptian health authorities abolished all COVID-19 testing at airports across the country, less than a day after 105 overseas Egyptian arrivals tested positive for COVID-19. The decision was taken ‘as part of the country’s plan to resume normal air travel after its suspension since March as a result of the pandemic’.

More than 150 hotels have also reopened at limited capacity as part of the government’s efforts to boost the tourism sector. The government is also taking steps to start welcoming foreign tourists to limited locations across the country.

The number of COVID-19 cases has been rising since the end of May. Egypt passed 40,000 cases on 12 June, 30,000 cases on 5 June and 20,000 cases on 28 May.

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