Daily COVID-19 roundup: May 19

The daily COVID-19 roundup is part of the Mada Morning Digest, our daily overview of what is making waves in the Arabic language press. If you want all the latest updates on COVID-19 and other leading stories including coverage of the economy, foreign policy, Parliament, the judiciary, media and much more — to land in your mailbox each morning, subscribe for a free trial here.


Here are the latest figures on COVID-19 as of Monday, May 18:


New casesRecoveredNew deaths
Current casesTotal casesTotal deaths


Several news items on Monday suggested updates on the volume of Egypt’s testing for the coronavirus, and the capacity of the health system — topics which remain major concerns, particularly for frontline medical staff.

    • The UK embassy in Egypt announced that the British company Premier Design Limited had delivered 40,000 PCR tests to Cairo. Egypt also received medical gowns from the United Kingdom back in April. Although it’s not clear how many tests Egypt had access to previously, it can be surmised from various statements that around 30,000 were conducted over the course of last week.
    • Medical staff got a LE100 bump to their pensions, as the Egyptian Union of Medical Syndicates raised the rate to LE900 pursuant to a request from the Doctors’ Syndicate.
    • The Health Technicians Syndicate was also advocating for medical staff on Monday, following in the footsteps of the Doctors Syndicate and the Nurses Syndicate to issue a statement criticizing the Health Ministry’s most recent guidelines on testing and isolating medical workers with COVID-19 symptoms. Like its fellow syndicates, the Health Technicians Syndicate said the new protocol endangers the lives of health workers and their families, yet it differed crucially from the others in calling on the president to transfer the management of public hospitals and isolation facilities to the Armed Forces.
    • Although the government has insisted that isolation facilities and public hospitals are not overwhelmed, news early on Monday morning showed the Luxor Fever Hospital had announced that it will be creating waiting lists for people in need of PCR tests “as a measure to try and contain the large number of people suspected of having the coronavirus” and prevent overcrowding. 
    • Upping the capacity for people to quarantine, Banque Du Caire and the Ahl Masr Foundation announced Sunday that they had officially opened a 100-bed isolation facility.

A couple of news items on Monday also touched on the situation for health workers.

    • Dr. Yousry Kamel, deputy director of the National Heart Institute, has contracted COVID-19, according to reports early on Tuesday morning.
    • After posting about COVID-19 on Facebook, the manager of the reception at Dikirnis Hospital is being investigated
    • Dr. Nadia Helmy, who headed the Cairo General Directorate for Pharmacy, died on Monday of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, a live video of a woman claiming she has contracted COVID-19 and been unable to get treatment from health authorities despite trying went viral Monday, prompting a response from the Health Ministry. Health officials got in touch and the woman is awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test.

Reports coming in over the course of the day also clarified how the lockdown for this year’s extra-long Eid holiday will play out.

    • Only 30 percent of bakeries will close, said Supply Minister Ali al-Moselhy, explaining that the rest will operate at full capacity.
    • Ubers, standard taxis and microbuses will be exempt from the ban on public transport over Eid al-Fitr, said Cabinet spox Nader Saad. Prime Minister Mostafa Madbuly had announced Sunday that all forms of group transportation would be halted from May 22 – 29. 
    • Nader Saad also said that the government had postponed the implementation of a LE300 penalty on entering public spaces without a face mask, pending measures to make the masks more affordable. Saad added that several clothing factories received approval to produce cloth masks which can be reused for up to a month and will cost LE5. Saad said the masks will be manufactured according to a Health Ministry specification, which he claimed would ensure they are more effective than surgical masks.
A 5 pm – 6 am curfew will apply over the official Eid holiday, from Sunday to Friday.

But in what looks like an instance of economic concerns winning over public health measures, announcements on Monday suggested that the tourism sector will get special dispensation to continue working throughout the Eid al-Fitr holiday, while other businesses will remain on lockdown.

    • The Egyptian Hotel Association said Monday that the Eid al-Fitr curfew — which will start at the earlier time of 5 pm — will not affect people traveling to spend their holidays at tourist cities across Egypt. Guests still won’t be allowed to leave their rooms after 5 pm though, said Hesham al-Shaer, an EHA board member. Shaer added that 55 hotels are set to have guests over the holiday and that all the government guidelines, including a cap on hotel occupancy at 25 percent, will be strictly applied during this time.
    • Committees comprising officials from the ministries of health, tourism, the hotel association and governorate representatives continue to inspect hotels to ensure they are sticking to the current health guidelines. 
    • Despite the precautions, a North Coast resort was closed yesterday after a family that had recently left tested positive for COVID-19. 
    • Tourism Minister Khaled al-Ananay also said Monday that the ministry will soon be looking into reopening museums.

Several reports of professionals contracting COVID-19 broke on Monday.

    • Daqahlia Governor Ayman Mokhtar has tested positive for the novel coronavirus. This comes hours after the governorate’s head of environmental affairs also tested positive for the virus. Amid concern that Irrigation Minister Mohamed Abdel Aaty could be at risk after meeting with the governor earlier on Monday, Abdel Aaty reassured the media that all the recommended health precautions were taken during the meeting. 
    • The Journalists Syndicate announced that a second journalist has died of the virus.
    • Wadi Degla Club coach Alaa Abdo tested positive on Monday.
    • Three employees at the Ghabbour automotive company, working at two different branches of the company, were diagnosed with COVID-19 on Monday. Two are employed at the Abou Rawash branch on the outskirts of Cairo, while the third works at the Sharm El-Sheikh facility.
    • An administrative prosecution office in Shebin al-Kom, Monufiya shut down Monday after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19.
    • Two staff members at the Shobra branch of Bank Audi tested positive for COVID-19, with the bank announcing that the branch would shut for sterilization and all the employees would be tested.
    • A staff member at the Egyptian General Authority for Books has tested positive for COVID-19, according to an announcement from EGAB head Haitham al-Hag. Any employees who had been in contact with the infected individual will get 14 days’ leave to self-isolate.
    • An engineer at the ENPPI petroleum company has tested positive for COVID-19. Nineteen employees who had been in proximity to the engineer are now isolating. Three ENPPI employees have contracted the virus to date.
    • The Customs Authority has shut down the logistics center at the Cairo airport after 15 staff members tested positive for COVID-19. The shutdown was a response to staff action, after employees refused to enter the facility on Monday morning, demanding that all staff first be tested and that stronger precautions are taken in the workplace.
    • Sources who spoke to Cairo 24 confirmed that the head of the Criminal Investigations unit at the Zagazig police station has tested positive, as has one of his assistants.

More news Monday on the situation for Egyptians who were stranded abroad when global lockdown was announced.

    • Authorities in Kuwait have placed 432 Egyptians in isolation after they came into contact with people who tested positive for COVID-19.
    • 22 Egyptians living in Kuwait have been placed in remand custody on charges of bringing thousands of Egyptian workers into Kuwait illegally.
    • A source in the Health Ministry told Cairo 24 that thermal cameras are being placed in Cairo International Airport and across airports throughout the country.
    • 763 Egyptians were repatriated from Saudi Arabia yesterday aboard three flights organized by the Civil Aviation Ministry.

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