Many Egyptians have begun to keep up with a new routine that was imposed on them due to fears over a potential spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), as social life is approaching petrification and all are advised to avoid public gatherings, social visits, and to stay home to protect the community.
On Monday, the government decided to decrease the number of public employees at state institutions and to give employees suffering from chronic diseases, pregnant women, mothers of children less than 12 years old, and those who just returned from abroad exceptional paid leave for two weeks.
Dozens of private businesses also allowed their employees to work from home for two weeks, while others are considering a similar measure. However, others still have to go to their respective offices as their administrations have not issued similar decrees.
People went on social media to express their concerns of losing their jobs if the crisis worsened, and over the self-isolation that could ruin their social lives. Expats in Cairo and other major cities also found themselves afraid of movement between governorates to check on their families, as most public transportations such as trains and minibuses are always overcrowded with commuters throughout the day.
“I just returned from work and the company is already suffering from financial losses. I am afraid they would dismiss us,” wrote a Facebook user.
Others narrated that a few people attended their weddings. “My sister’s wedding was yesterday, only a few people showed up, but at least it went normal,” wrote a user.
“I hope that we could comfort all brides whose wedding have been cancelled over the Coronavirus. A difficult situation,” a Twitter user wrote.
“This is the worst scenario for expats, I am afraid of being almost locked down from our families,” a user wrote on Facebook.
In the meantime, a user said “this is the first time to experience this fear. People die of coronavirus; I do not want to live this panic.”
A hashtage has been trending on Twitter, “Stay home,” since the Egyptian government asked citizens to avoid public gatherings and keep safe at home. “If you are not afraid of contracting the disease, be afraid for the people you love,” wrote a user.
Social media users have also been suggesting ways to keep oneself entertained while staying at home, by sharing links to movies, e-learning programmes, and books. “Please stay home. Impose self-isolation to avoid contracting corona and transmitting it to others and being placed in quarantine,” wrote another user.
This week, the Egyptian government has taken further strict measures in a bid to contain the pandemic, as the number of total cases in the country increased to 166 until mid-Tuesday, including 80 Egyptians, according to the Health Ministry. Three new cases were detected in Menoufiya on Tuesday, according to the Menoufiya governor.
Governmental measures included suspending internal and international flights, starting Thursday until March 31, except charter flights. Schools, courts, public gatherings, and sports activities were also halted for two weeks.
Moreover, the top Islamic body, Al Azhar, said worshipers could pray at home instead of mosques at this time. Churches have yet to issue similar recommendations.
Weddings and funerals were also suspended until further notice, as thousands of brides and grooms found themselves stuck and not able to tie the knot and book their honeymoon destinations.
Despite the government advice for citizens to stay home, especially the elderly, many people have still crowded the malls, cafes, and cinemas accompanied by their children.
Therefore, the cabinet ordered on Tuesday the closure of cinemas and theatres until further notice.