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Coronavirus

Egyptians celebrate a more normal Ramadan despite COVID-19 worries

Published: Updated:

Egyptians are celebrating the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in more normal conditions despite concerns about a rise in coronavirus cases and a possible third wave of infections.

Last year, cafes and restaurants were only open for take-away, mosques were shut and a night-time curfew was in place. This year, restaurants are operating again and mosques are open for prayers, though physical distancing and hygiene rules are meant to be observed.

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Ahead of the beginning of Ramadan on Tuesday, residents packed streets and markets in the capital Cairo, shopping for colorful Ramadan lanterns and sweets, many not wearing masks.

“There is a stark difference between this year and last year,” said one shopper, Amira Karim. “This year, I can feel Ramadan.”

Egypt has so far recorded 211,307 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 12,487 deaths.

COVID-19 infections confirmed by the government have increased in recent weeks, rising above 800 confirmed daily cases ahead of Ramadan. Officials have urged people to take precautions to guard against a possible third wave of infections.

Experts say official numbers likely only reflect a small fraction of COVID-19 cases in Egypt due to relatively limited testing and the non-inclusion of private test results.

The government is rolling out a vaccination campaign but has so far received limited supplies of the Sinopharm vaccine from China and AstraZeneca vaccine through the COVAX facility.

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