Thousands of revellers marking New Year’s Eve in Egypt’s coastal city of Alexandria who were captured on video chanting against COVID-19 have sparked fears of a mass outbreak.
Despite the Egyptian government banning New Year’s Eve celebrations, large groups of Egyptians gathered on Alexandria’s iconic Stanley Bridge to mark the end of 2020.
A video, which has gone viral on social media, shows tightly-packed crowds chanting “Corona!” and ignoring all health and safety precautions. Other videos and photographs shared on social media showed large groups celebrating as fireworks lit up the sky in Alexandria near Stanley Bridge.
It is unclear whether the fireworks were launched illegally or whether they were sanctioned by the governorate of Alexandria. Social media users in Egypt have expressed shock and dismay on Facebook and Twitter, with many questioning whether the local government took sufficient measures to prevent or disperse the crowds.
In response to the scenes that broke out in Alexandria, Mohamed Al-Sherif, the Governor of Alexandria, commented that the current stage of the COVID-19 pandemic is “very dangerous” and that the people of Alexandria “must be vigilant” to the fact that the second wave of the pandemic is more dangerous than the first. The Governor, who had tested positive to COVID-19 in December, called on Alexandrians to stay home and adhere to precautionary and preventative measures, adding that he had given strict instructions to authorities to raise awareness and implement such measures, reported Masrawy.
The scenes in Alexandria come as Egypt is witnessing a surge in COVID-19 cases, with the officially recorded daily infection toll reaching 1,418 on New Year’s Eve and the daily death toll reaching 55.
All New Year’s Eve celebrations were banned across the country, including any large gatherings such as weddings, parties or funerals. The Egyptian Prime Minister emphasized that there would be severe and instant consequences for any lack of adherence, yet it remains unclear whether those breaching instructions in Alexandria and elsewhere will face any repercussions for their actions.