Severity: Warning Alert

Transportation: Egypt suspends public and private transport for Sham El-Nessim holiday April 20 due to COVID-19 activity. Increased security likely.

This alert affects Egypt

This alert began 19 Apr 2020 20:00 GMT and is scheduled to expire 21 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Public and private transport suspension
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Date: April 20
  • Impact: Business and travel disruptions; heightened security

Summary
Authorities in Egypt plan to shut down all modes of public and private transport during the nation's April 20 Sham El-Nessim holiday as part of their efforts to combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). In addition to private vehicles, the edict also applies to buses and trains, as well as maritime services on the Nile River. The order represents a temporary tightening of existing COVID-19 restrictions under which all modes of public and private transport are suspended only during curfew hours of 2000-0600 daily through April 23. Sham El-Nessim is a nonsectarian national holiday rooted in pharaonic Egyptian tradition, which marks the coming of spring.

Authorities will also close all nonessential businesses, including shops and malls, as well as public spaces such as parks and beaches. Egyptians typically celebrate Sham El-Nessim with picnics in parks and at beaches; hence, law enforcement personnel will likely deploy to such location to ensure members of the public do not access them in violation of the closures. Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly has warned that officers will employ force, if necessary, on April 20 to ensure compliance with COVID-related preventive measures.

Background and Analysis
Egypt's travel restrictions and preventive measures correspond with similar actions other governments are taking globally in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all business appointments and travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.