At a time when all countries of the world announced the coronavirus and took the necessary precautions to confront it, and the World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus a global pandemic, Egypt continued to deny the virus’ spread in the country and covered up the deaths resulting from it.
Instead, it declared the cause of these deaths as pneumonia. Moreover, it accused all those who demand the closure of schools and imposition of a curfew in the country of insulting Egypt and treachery. Meanwhile, the rest of the world has closed its airports to tourists, while Egypt continues to welcome tourist groups out of fear that the country’s tourism sector declines, as it generates hard currency for the country. This resulted in an Italian tourist infecting nearly 40 people who were on the same cruise ship as her in Luxor. When global news outlets reported this and the Guardian published a report which estimated that the number of people infected by the coronavirus in Egypt was in the tens of thousands and that Egypt had not been transparent and had not announced the real number of cases, the government went mad, shut the newspaper’s office and deported its correspondent from Egypt.
The Egyptian regime remained in a state of denial and insisted on remaining stubborn, and in order to prove that Egypt was not shaken by the virus that shook the entire world, Egypt received tourist groups from China, where the virus started.
It even reached the point that the government was encouraging people to be ignorant, showing several artists in the media saying coronavirus doesn’t scare us, we are Egyptians, and we will scare it away. This is the epitome of foolishness, ignorance, and encouraging people to be oblivious. They even embraced each other in front of the cameras to prove they were stronger than the virus, and in doing so they are encouraging people not to adhere to the safety and preventative measures announced by health organisations around the world.
This malicious virus does not know nationality, religion, nationalism, or race. It does not differentiate between man or woman or between rich or poor. If, God forbid, it spreads in Egypt, the country will be in shambles due to the weak health system and the prevalence of deadly diseases in the country, such as kidney failure, liver disease and cancer.
Egypt remained like this, denying the existence of the coronavirus until two army generals died as a result of the virus. It was only then that the mockery stopped and serious measures were taken to fight this virus. It immediately announced the closure of schools after having refused any major step to prevent and reduce its spread. They also banned gatherings, and consequently cancelled prayer in mosques, theatres, cinemas, clubs and football matches. Finally, it announced a curfew between 7pm and 6am and launched a major media and advertising campaign to raise awareness of the danger of the virus and inform people about the health and preventative measures they should be following, with the slogan “stay home”.
It was as if they were waiting for a disaster to occur in their ranks in order to admit the presence of coronavirus in Egypt.
Since the government announced its strict measures and decisions, the people flocked to the stores to stockpile, which has encouraged merchants to increase prices. The greed has grown without any real control from the government.
The government is holding the people responsible if, God forbid, the coronavirus pandemic spreads in Egypt instead of admitting its failure to fight it!
In light of this hectic atmosphere, the Attorney General has issued a decision to arrest anyone who posts false news or spreads rumours that could disrupt the stability in the country on social media. Under this pretext, dozens of political activists have been arrested!
The people of Egypt are among the most afflicted people in the world, not only with diseases but also with their rulers’ exploitation of diseases and disasters, using them as a means to establish their rule. More dangerous is the use of these diseases as a scarecrow to achieve corrupt political and economic purposes, which has occurred several times in Egypt, including the bird flu and swine flu. These diseases were used as a terrifying scarecrow to justify the state’s failures, on one hand, and used as rationale for additional policies of repression, taxation, injustice and corruption, on the other.
The Egyptian government does not confront diseases and epidemics, but rather exploits the bodies of its victims to justify their existence and support the corruption that consumes it.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.