On 4 January, fashion designer Samo Hagras posted an Instagram story of a wedding in which Egyptian Health Minister Hala Zayed could be seen being photographed with the bride and groom. The video instantly went viral with many questioning why and how she would attend a wedding despite the government banning indoor gatherings and discouraging outdoor ones.
In the video, which appears to have been taken in an indoor event hall, Zayed is wearing a mask, but is surrounded by other attendees, almost none of whom are wearing masks. According to government restrictions, masks are to be worn in public places, a rule that if violated results in a fine, and indoor events are banned.
Al-Masry Al-Youm reached out to Hagras who originally posted the video, and he refused to specify when the wedding took place, but the reporters went on to attempt to deduce the timing through a number of pieces of evidence. Firstly, the report notes that singer Tamer Hosny was in attendance, singing a song that was not released until October of last year, meaning that it can only have taken place sometime in the last three months.
The same article also stated that an account had recorded a live video at a hotel where the groom from the wedding appeared, and that recording featured a timestamp. Reporters from the publication further contacted the hairdresser who was tagged in the fashion designer’s story, who claimed that the wedding took place on 3 January. This claim was corroborated by the official page of the brides aesthetician. Further investigation in Instagram posts created by attendees showing that singers Tamer Hosny and Ahmed Sheba performed at the wedding also corroborated that date.
This video stirred anger amongst many as it occurred against the starkly contrasting background of five deaths in the intensive care unit of the Al-Hussainiyya hospital in Al-Sharqiya governorate, the cancellation of in-person education at all levels, and decreased employee presence in ministries and government workplaces.
Zayed has not yet made any public comment about the video despite making public remarks after its spread.
While anecdotal evidence suggests an exponential rise in coronavirus cases, official cases on 4 January reached 1277, and deaths linked officially with COVID-19 were at 58. This brings Egypt’s total tally of coronavirus cases to 143,464and related deaths to 7863.