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Coronavirus: Egypt shuts down schools and universities for two weeks

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi seeks $6bn to back plan to tackle Covid-19 as number of cases nears 100
A passenger wears a mask on an Egypt Air flight following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (Reuters)

Egypt said it would shut down all schools and universities to fight the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus as the country continues to register more cases. 

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said in a statement on Saturday that closures of schools and universities would start on Sunday and continue for two weeks. 

Sisi also called for a 100 billion Egyptian pound ($6.38bn) fund to finance the state's "comprehensive plan" for tackling the disease, the statement said.

The country's health ministry registered 13 new cases on Friday, taking the total number of cases in Egypt to 93 with two deaths. 

This announcement came after Egyptian authorities on Friday quarantined a school in the Zamalek district of Cairo after a student tested positive for the coronavirus. 

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A large proportion of Egypt's confirmed cases had come from a River Nile cruise ship in the popular tourist destination of Luxor

Twenty-seven people of the registered cases have recovered and eight of them were released from a quarantine hospital, including six Egyptians and two foreigners, the health ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

Egypt took several measures to reassure travellers that it is safe to visit after the virus outbreak on the Nile ship, including testing hundreds of tourists and tourism workers for coronavirus, and sanitising hotel facilities and cruise ships in Luxor and Aswan.

The tourism sector is an important source of hard currency for Egypt.

Sixty-three tourists on board the infected Nile ship travelled to their home countries on Tuesday and Wednesday after spending a period in quarantine and testing negative, the tourism and antiquaries ministry said on Wednesday.

The government also decided to suspend events that include big gatherings such as religious festivals, concerts, exhibitions and concerts.

On Wednesday, the education ministry ordered schools to suspend activities like sports and music events, but insisted study would not be stopped, the state news agency MENA said.

In an apparent move to prevent public panic, security services detained three people over spreading false information about coronavirus on their Facebook account, MENA said.

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