Severity: Warning Alert

Transportation: Authorities in Egypt suspend all public transport services 2000 April 19-0600 April 21 due to COVID-19 activity. Increased security likely.

This alert affects Egypt

This alert began 19 Apr 2020 21:09 GMT and is scheduled to expire 21 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Public transport suspension
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: 2000 April 19-0600 April 21
  • Impact: Business and travel disruptions; heightened security

Authorities in Egypt have suspended all public transport services from 2000 April 19 through 0600 April 21. The new order is the latest in a series of preventive measures the government has introduced in recent days to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The April 19 edict, which does not apply to the use of private vehicles, follows an April 16 announcement that authorities would shut down all modes of transportation - both public and private - during the nation's April 20 Sham El-Nessim holiday. It remains unclear whether the more recent directive supersedes the earlier one or simply expands upon it. Nevertheless, buses and trains, as well as maritime services on the Nile River, will be suspended until early April 21. The measure 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.

Authorities will also close all nonessential businesses, including shops and malls, as well as public spaces such as parks and beaches, on the April 20 observance. Egyptians typically celebrate Sham El-Nessim with picnics in parks and at beaches; hence, law enforcement personnel will likely deploy to such locations 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-19 preventive measures. Sham El-Nessim is a nonsectarian national holiday rooted in pharaonic Egyptian tradition, which marks the coming of spring.

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.

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.