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Egypt’s Beaches, Public Parks Closed During Sham El Nessim to Curb COVID-19 Pandemic

Egypt’s Beaches, Public Parks Closed During Sham El Nessim to Curb COVID-19 Pandemic

Egyptian families celebrate Sham El-Nessim in 2013 at a park in Cairo. Credit: Amru Salahuddien

Egypt’s governors of Cairo, Alexandria, Qalyoubia, Damietta and Sohag ordered the closure of all public parks and beaches during Sham El Nessim (Easter) to curb the COVID-19 spread and maintain social distancing measures.

This year’s Sham El Nessim holiday is expected to take place on Monday 3rd of May, which comes after the celebration of Orthodox Easter on Sunday.

Last week, 18 dioceses across Egypt announced that they will be suspending services during this year’s Holy Week and Easter as part of efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. Other churches across the nation have also imposed different preventive and precautionary measures to curb the spread of the virus, such as capping mass attendance at 25 percent.

On Wednesday, Egypt’s single-day toll of COVID-19 cases exceeded 1,000 for the first time since January of this year, reporting 1,011 new cases. On Thursday, Egypt reported 1,003 new cases and 59 new deaths, raising the total number of COVID-19 cases to 226,531.

Egypt has seen a steady increase in COVID-19 cases since last month, as experts have warned that a third wave of the pandemic could hit during or after the holy month of Ramadan.

In a televised statement on April 20, Noha Assem, advisor to Health Minister Hala Zayed, warned that Egypt could face a public health disaster “if we continue with the current situation,” adding that cases have surged since the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan.

This comes as Egypt rolls out its national COVID-19 vaccination program. As of the 16th of April, 1.23 million citizens have registered to receive the vaccine, and 320,000 have been vaccinated, according to data released by the Ministry of Health earlier this month.

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