AU leaders coaction needed to fight coronavirus, Egypt’s al-Sisi says, extends state of emergency for 3 months

Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi
President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi accompanied by his aides during an official outing

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi has underscored the importance of Africa’s regional economic blocs in fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

He also stressed the necessity of continued communication between African states to coordinate efforts and promote joint continental work for combating the novel coronavirus.

He said this on Wednesday, while registering appearance with his African counterparts at a virtual mini-summit held by the African Union (AU) to discuss joint efforts to combat COVID-19 pandemic in the continent, Egyptian presidential spokesman Bassam Rady said in a statement.

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He also commended the results of previous African virtual mini-summits including the establishment of the African Business Coalition on Health, Rady said.

The Egyptian presidency further disclosed that attendance at the mini-summit held via a video conference, included the current AU chief and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, as well as the leaders of Kenya, Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Niger, Tanzania, Rwanda, Chad and Madagascar, in addition to the Sudanese prime minister.

It was also attended by the head of the AU Commission and the director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

The Egyptian president attended two similar AU virtual mini-summits held in late March and early April to unite the continent’s efforts and exchange expertise in fighting the novel coronavirus.

Earlier on Wednesday, Egypt confirmed 226 new COVID-19 infections and 21 fatalities, raising the number of cases in the  country to 5,268 and the death toll to 380.
Meanwhile, Africa CDC said on Wednesday that the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa hit 34,915 with a death toll of 1,521.

Meanwhile, President al-Sisi extended on Tuesday the nationwide state of emergency for another three months, according to the country’s official gazette.

In a presidential decree, al-Sisi justified the move, saying that the country faces “dangerous” conditions in the fields of health and security.

The state of emergency allows the authorities to take exceptional measures, including the referral of terrorism suspects to state security courts, the imposition of curfews, and the censoring of newspapers.

Besides terrorism, the Middle Eastern country is tackling the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed over 200,000 lives worldwide.

The Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population confirmed 20 more fatalities from COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the national death toll to 337. The number of cases stand at 4,782, along with 1,236 recoveries.

Cairo imposed a night-time curfew, along with other measures, to combat the spread of the virus last month.

As countries ease the restrictions, Egypt, a nation of nearly 100 million people, too has allowed malls and shops to open daily until 5 p.m. during the holy month of Ramadan. The curfew now starts at 9 p.m. instead of the previous 8 p.m., and continues till 6 a.m.

Schools and universities, mosques and tourist sites, however, still remain shut.