As part of precautionary measures to confront the novel coronavirus, the Egyptian government held its weekly session on Thursday through a video conference.
Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly stressed that holding a virtual cabinet session was a message to the people that the government was abiding by isolation measures to curb the spread of the virus.
For her part, Dr. Hala Zayed, Minister of Health, announced that 456 cases were registered until Thursday evening, including 95 recoveries and 21 deaths.
Cases reached 495 by noon on Friday.
The Egyptian premier ordered the formation of a committee of ministries and relevant authorities to follow up on the situation of Egyptians stranded in a number of countries.
In this regard, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry said that directives were sent to the Egyptian embassies abroad to count the number of nationals stuck in different countries and coordinate with the concerned parties to facilitate their return to Egypt.
Zayed stressed that isolation was one of the most important measures taken by the state to limit the spread of the virus and reduce the rate of daily infections.
On a different note, MP Tariq el-Khouly, secretary of the parliamentary Foreign Relations Committee, responded to calls by human rights organizations on easing prison pressure by releasing detainees who were not involved in terrorism cases.
He told Asharq Al-Awsat that such proposals would need legal and constitutional revisions, and may require amendment in some legislations.
Rights groups and prisoners’ families have voiced concern over poor health services and high density in inmate population in prisons, thus raising fears of the spread of the coronavirus. However, authorities affirm that jails are safe and stress that many precautions have been implemented to deal with the pandemic.
The Egyptian Prison Authority suspended family visits to prisoners until the end of March, to “preserve the public health and safety of inmates”.