Coronavirus fears overshadow Eid celebrations in Egypt

By Taha Mohamed

Cairo, May 24 (efe-epa).- Eid prayers were broadcast in Egypt but most of the mosques and squares where they would usually have been performed in large numbers were empty of people.

The unusual scenes completed an atypical Ramadan, the Islamic holy fasting month, after authorities imposed restrictive measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“Eid has changed in Egypt to be honest,” Anwaar tells Efe in Cairo’s El Sayeda Zeinab neighborhood.

“Not like before, everything is closed. The people are too afraid of corona that they do not go out.”

Anwaar was referring to restrictions imposed by the authorities during Eid, including the suspension of public transportation and extending the nighttime curfew by four hours.

The authorities also banned felucca, a small engine or sailboat that tour the Nile, and travel between provinces, while cinemas, restaurants, beaches and parks remained closed.

This gave only a few options for those who wanted to mark Eid.

“In previous years, I went to the pyramids, citadel (of Saladin)… and even the Nile Corniche is closed. The government has closed everything out of fear for the people,” she adds.

Security forces were deployed in larger numbers than usual including on the banks of the Nile and other locations around Cairo.

The aim is to keep people safe and to ensure “the implementation of the precautionary measures adopted by the country to preserve the health of the citizens,” the Ministry of Interior said in a statement.

A concern shared by Anwaar although she does not wear a protective mask.

“Honestly I am worried. I have a son and I fear for him. One hears about the increase in the cases, and his fear rise,” she says.

Egypt has witnessed a spike in coronavirus cases over the past few weeks, with the ministry of health reporting a record of 783 infections on 22 May.

“I have a mask, but I cannot breathe freely with it on, so I have it (in the bag) since no one here is here. I have alcohol. I apply it frequently. You fears for yourself,” she adds.

Yehia Sharawy, who is in his early 50s, opted to wear a mask as he went to buy some food.

“We follow the instructions. There is a virus (spread) across the world. Therefore, we have to comply with the instructions and stay at home,” he tells Efe.

“We congratulate each other over Eid by phone. And thank God for everything.”

Another woman Israa says family gatherings are a luxury she cannot afford during the pandemic as she considers herself to be

“one of the committed people who do not go out”.

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