Egypt shuts hospitals, isolates villages to slow virus
A view of Egypt's Salah Salem main road in the capital Cairo during long night-time curfew. AFP
Egypt has shuttered several hospitals and quarantined villages in an attempt to halt the rising infection rate of new coronavirus in the most populous Arab state.
A Cairo hospital was closed for sterilisation late Saturday after two COVID-19 cases were confirmed. An official at Al-Salam hospital told AFP on Sunday: "We are currently disinfecting the hospital for the safety of everyone concerned. One patient had come in tested positive and a member of our staff was infected after".
He said no date was yet set for re-opening the facility. Other hospitals have also been closed in the last week after recording cases of the virus, including the Alexandria University Hospital and Al-Shorouk hospital in Cairo.
Health ministry spokesperson Khaled Megahed also announced that villages in up to 10 governorates have been quarantined. "We have several infections from the same source... in what we call local transmission. Before it spreads to become a community transmission, we undertake this precautionary measure of quarantining the entire village... for 14 days," he said on a widely watched talk-show with popular host Lamees al-Hadidi on Saturday.
Egyptian doctors on social media have urged people to stay home to stem the rate of transmissions through social interactions. The health ministry has reported 576 COVID-19 cases, including 36 deaths.
Egypt imposed a night-time curfew last week for two weeks in a bid to contain the growing contagion, which has caused over 30,000 deaths globally. Penalties for violators include a fine of up to 4,000 Egyptian pounds (around $250) and even jail time. Flights have been grounded until 15 April.