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Egypt's Copts record four new coronavirus cases among priesthood after churches 'flout lockdown' Open in fullscreen

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Egypt's Copts record four new coronavirus cases among priesthood after churches 'flout lockdown'

Egypt's Coptic Church has recorded new cases of coronavirus among its priesthood [AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 1 May, 2020

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Four new cases of coronavirus have been recorded among the clergy of Egypt's Coptic Church, amid reports that some Egyptian churches had flouted the lockdown.
Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church said on Thursday that four new cases of coronavirus had been recorded among its priests.

All four clergy members were transferred to hospital to be treated for Covid-19, The New Arab's Arabic-language service reported.

Reverend Maximus Sobhi, who is a priest in a church in the Beni Suef Governorate, tested positive for coronavirus after coming in contact with a confirmed case, the church said.

The church said a priest in the "Marmina Al-Ajaybi" Church in Faiyum Governorate, Father Takla Shafiq, also contracted coronavirus from one of his relatives who died recently.
The other two cases were in the governorates of Qena and Damietta.

The cases came amid reports that some Egyptian churches had violated the decision to close all churches, stop ritual services, masses, and activities, and limit any funeral to the family of the deceased only.

These violations are believed to have led to the high number of cases of coronavirus among the church's clergy, The New Arab's Arabic-language service reported. Copts make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population of 100 million.

Read more: Orthodox congregations watch Easter services from home during lockdown

Egypt recorded 226 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday and 21 deaths, bringing the total to 5268 cases and 380 deaths.

Meanwhile, the first case of coronavirus was recorded in Egypt's North Sinai Governorate, months after the virus entered the country.

The marginalised governorate, on which Egypt maintains a tight military blockade that has long prevented independent observers, journalists and non-residents from entering the province, had remained coronavirus free for months.

Egypt's North Sinai province is home to the country's IS affiliate, Wilayat Sinai, and other extremist militants who have been engaged in a bloody insurgency against the state since 2011.

Read more: Coronavirus free, Egyptians in North Sinai see military blockade as a blessing for first time

When local militants intensified their attacks after President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's rise to power in a 2013 coup, the regime escalated its counter-insurgency in a scorched earth campaign that has seen Egypt accused of "serious and widespread abuses" against civilians.

Egypt's army said on Thursday that 10 soldiers were either killed or wounded in a blast targeting an armoured vehicle in the restive region. 

Agencies contributed to this report.

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