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Coronavirus: Egypt to halt public transport during holiday to limit crowds

One of the most popular holidays in Egypt, Sham el-Nessim will largely be celebrated indoors this year
Egyptians wait outside Shaheen market for salted fish named "Fesikh", a traditional dish eaten during the Sham el-Nessim holiday, in old Cairo, 16 April, 2020 (Reuters)

Egypt’s government announced it is halting all public transport on Monday to limit crowds during the spring holiday of Sham el-Nessim as part of measures to curb the spread of coronavirus

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said on Thursday that his government has ordered the closure of public parks and beaches, in addition to suspending subway, rail, ferry and coach services to reduce gatherings on the popular holiday that is usually celebrated outdoors.

“We have noticed large crowds of Egyptians in the streets during the past three days, to a worrying degree,” he told a news conference, advising citizens to stay at home on Monday. 

'We have noticed large crowds of Egyptians in the streets during the past three days, to a worrying degree'

- Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly

“We understand that such decisions on this special day are very tough, and we appreciate the people’s desire to celebrate,” he said.

“But we care about the public’s well-being, and would like to leave that day with the least possible losses.”

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Egypt has so far reported a total of 2763 cases of the virus, and 196 deaths as of Thursday evening. 

Sham el-Nessim is an Egyptian national holiday celebrated by Egyptians of all religions marking the beginning of spring. It falls on the day after the Coptic Christian Easter, this year on Sunday. 

Only food stores and pharmacies will be open on Monday, the prime minister said. 

Egypt imposed a nighttime curfew on 24 March, currently in effect till 23 April. 

The North African country, home to 100 million people, has taken stringent measures to curb the spread of the virus, including the closure of schools, universities, mosques and churches in addition to the suspension of flights.

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