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Police make arrests and disperse protest against coronavirus victim burial in Egyptian village

Demonstrators in Nile Delta village protest burial of Covid-19 victim fearing contagion
Egyptian men wearing masks wait outside a centre of non-governmental organisation Egyptian Food Bank to receive cartons with foodstuffs (AFP)

Police on Saturday arrested 12 people as they dispersed a crowd in a Nile Delta village protesting against the burial of a coronavirus victim.

A security source told AFP that relatives had taken the body of a retired doctor from her home in Daqahliya, north of Cairo to the family vault in the village of Shubra al-Bahou.

However, prior to the burial, dozens of villagers launched a demonstration outside the cemetery.

The protesters said they feared the virus could spread if the 65-year-old was interred there.

The woman's family were turned back from another nearby cemetery before returning to Shubra al-Bahou.

Security forces then dispersed an angry crowd with teargas, making 12 arrests, before the woman was buried.

Despite widespread concern over the risk posed by the corpses of those who died from the virus, the Centre For Disease Control and Prevention has stated there is "no known risk associated with being in the same room at a funeral or visitation service with the body of someone who died of Covid-19."

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Last month Egyptian authorities placed 300 families under quarantine in a village in Daqahliya governorate after a 72-year-old woman and a 50-year-old man died from the new coronavirus.

At the time Health Minister Hala Zayed said the measure was to allow sterilisation procedures to prevent more infections in the village, which she did not name.

So far, Egypt has confirmed 1,794 Covid-19 cases and 135 deaths.

The Egyptian Medical Syndicate said on Saturday three doctors have died from the illness but that only one of them contracted it at work.

Another 43 doctors have been infected by the virus, the union said in a statement.