Opinion| UNIDO Egypt fosters manufacturing sector recovery in a changing economy    Opinion| Consequences of US withdrawal from Middle East    Cairo joins in 'Orange the World' campaign raising awareness on gender-based violence    EU, Egypt partner in supporting gender-targeted programmes: Ambassador Berger    Luiza Formenius launches new single 'I'll Be Home For Christmas'    Korean Ambassador urges need to enhance space cooperation with Egypt    Export-Import Bank of Korea delegation visits Cairo to chart Roadmap for future cooperation    Egypt renews call for nuclear weapon-free zone in Middle East    Wegz is most streamed artist in Egypt during 2021 for second consecutive year: Spotify    Orange Egypt Continues its Sponsorship for iRead Awards Ceremony    Egypt participates in 8th Forum on China-Africa Cooperation    Egypt, Qatar discuss cooperation in sports infrastructure    Poor sleep habits are associated with deficient control of blood sugar after meals    Prominent Egyptian anchor calls on UK to designate "Muslim Brotherhood" a Terrorist entity    Egypt, Israel sign deal sign MoU to increase gas supplies, hydrogen transport    Egypt's stocks end week in green as benchmark EWX 30 surges 0.69%    Mortada Mansour sets road map for Zamalek, after normalization committee depart    I seek to secure stable financial sources to build strong judo team: Motei Fakhr El-Din    Orascom Construction joins consortium to develop Egypt's first green hydrogen production facility    98 potential candidates run for Libyan presidency    'Lake Victoria – Mediterranean' navigation corridor awaits feasibility studies, funds: official    Egypt's trade with Nile basin countries climbs 26% y-o-y in 9 months    Egypt selected to host COP27 international climate conference in 2022    Number of British tourists to Egypt seen hitting 500,000 this winter – envoy    The unvaccinated prohibited from entry to Egypt state institutions starting December 1    Egypt, Greece ink deal for first subsea power link between Europe and Africa    SCOHRE sparks discussion on harm reduction, tobacco control    Egypt to receive first of six high-trains from Spain's Talgo in mid-November    Egypt's iron and steel exports jump 197% in 8 months    Ethiopia halts work at its embassy in Egypt for 'economic reasons'    It's a bit frustrating to draw at home: Real Madrid keeper after Villarreal game    Russia says it's in sync with US, China, Pakistan on Taliban    Shoukry reviews with Guterres Egypt's efforts to achieve SDGs, promote human rights    Sudan says countries must cooperate on vaccines    Johnson & Johnson: Second shot boosts antibodies and protection against COVID-19    Egypt to tax bloggers, YouTubers    Egypt's FM asserts importance of stability in Libya, holding elections as scheduled    Brazil calls up 8 EPL players for World Cup qualifying    We mustn't lose touch: Muller after Bayern win in Bundesliga    Egypt records 36 new deaths from Covid-19, highest since mid June    Egypt sells $3 bln US-dollar dominated eurobonds    Sisi calls on House, Senate to commence second legislative sessions on 3, 5 October    Gamal Hanafy's ceramic exhibition at Gezira Arts Centre is a must go    Italian Institute Director Davide Scalmani presents activities of the Cairo Institute for ITALIANA.IT platform    Qa'a play showing at Lycee El Horreya Theatre, Alexandria is a must go    APO Group enters new exclusive agreement with Getty Images on African press releases and images    On International Museum Day, Egypt opens two new museums at Cairo Airport    Old Cairo's Al-Fustat will be revamped on Egyptian President's directives    

Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.

Grasping the reality of the virus
Published in Ahram Online on 17 - 03 - 2020

After weeks of dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak as onlookers, Egyptians suddenly found themselves in the middle of the storm this week with the government announcing several strict precautionary measures to prevent its spread.
Schools, universities, and educational centres were closed for two weeks as part of the country's plans to deal with any possible repercussions of the new coronavirus, and all sports activities were suspended for the same period.
More drastic measures followed throughout the week, including a decision to suspend flights altogether with the outside world starting on 19 March and threats of stricter rules on movement should people not restrict their movements.
“Following the cabinet's decisions on Saturday to close schools for two weeks, I became more aware of the seriousness of the situation. My own hygiene and that of everyone else is important for the safety of everyone,” Ahmed Yehia, public-relations manager at a private university in Cairo, told Al-Ahram Weekly.
Awareness of the dangers of Covid-19 has been on the rise, with messages delivered through regular media and even more so through social media, including on platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook. Changing habits is often part of the content of these messages, but this remains something that everybody has to work on.
Yehia, an employee in his late 30s, recounts that while at the office at the outset of the week, he felt guilty after shaking hands with several clients. “What if any of them were infected, I kept telling myself. However, by the end of a long day I had forgotten,” he said.
He was starkly reminded again when in the evening he went to do some shopping and saw crowds doing “doomsday” shopping. “Most of the shelves were empty of basic food products,” he said, adding that he then started panic-buying as well.
“The lack of shopping carts and scenes of empty shelves and panic-buying led me to do the same,” said Essam, another Cairo resident, adding that he had spent almost double the amount he usually spends on household shopping.
“I began to search for other products that I don't usually buy to compensate for the lack of food products that I usually buy,” he added.
Egypt's Supply Minister Ali Moselhi said there was no reason to panic because neither supermarkets nor pharmacies would close, and there was plenty of food available for purchase.
“The strategic reserve for food commodities is sufficient for several months. Our stocks of wheat and sugar are sufficient for more than four months, and the reserve of raw edible oil is sufficient for more than three-and-a-half months, in addition to the quantities produced and available in the markets. We have enough rice supplies for five months,” the minister stated.
The panic was not just about food products, but also masks, disinfectants and sanitisers, however. “The most popular products nowadays are antiseptics, hand sanitisers, gloves, and masks,” Mahmoud Helmi, branch manager of a pharmacy chain located in Giza, told the Weekly.
Due to the demand, many of these items have not only increased in price but are also disappearing from the shelves.
“The price of one litre of imported hand disinfectant has more than doubled from LE85 to LE180, while the locally produced alternative has risen above LE120 from LE60,” Helmi said, adding that masks were out of stock altogether.
Smaller sizes of locally produced antiseptic products, which used to range from LE5 to LE10, have now become LE10 to LE50.
Regarding masks, Abdel-Meguid Mamdouh, a pharmacist in Nasr City, confirmed the shortage of masks in the market and said the most effective N95 mask had almost reached LE100 in price from less than LE20 a few weeks ago, while a pack of regular masks was being sold for LE250 instead of LE40.
“Any attempts to hoard commodities and create crises in the market will be dealt with firmly,” Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli said in a press conference on Monday. The Consumer Protection Agency urged citizens to report anyone who raises prices on its hotline 19588 or through its e-mail at [email protected]
On social media platforms, through which the majority of people exchange experiences and alternative home-made recipes for unavailable products, experts proposed an old-fashioned locally produced cologne “as an alternative to alcohol disinfectants”.
But even that did not escape the price rises, with its price rising more than five times from LE15 to LE85.
Madbouli called on everyone to avoid gatherings, stressing the importance of attention to hygiene, public health, and the guidelines for the prevention of the spread of the new coronavirus.
“I have begun to wear a mask when getting on public transport, but only 10 to 20 per cent of commuters do the same,” Nabila Hamdi, a 43-year-old employee, said. “I do what I am supposed to do, but others look at me as if I were a weirdo,” she said, adding that “the awareness of citizens is not enough.”
Cairo resident Manal Mohamed said she knew most of the prevention measures but still could not always apply them. “I am not used to using non-contact methods of greeting, and I always forget and sometimes handshake or even kiss while greeting,” she said. Mohamed also said she could forget and unintentionally touch her face after touching surfaces.
Among the basic protective measures against the new coronavirus, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), are washing the hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or washing them with soap and water, maintaining social distancing of at least one metre, and avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth while in public.
In addition, the WHO urged everyone to follow good respiratory hygiene.
The Health Ministry has launched a new Arabic site at www.care.gov.eg that outlines the necessary precautionary measures and also the latest information about the new coronavirus outbreak in Egypt.
It urges anyone presenting with a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing to call one of its two hotlines at 105 or 15335.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 19 March, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

Clic here to read the story from its source.