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The New Arab

Egypt's Sisi tests aides daily with 'sophisticated device' to prevent coronavirus infection

Egypt has eased the coronavirus lockdown in a bid to salvage the economy [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 May, 2020

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Dozens of people working closely with Egypt's President Sisi are subject to the daily coronavirus testing, said an official Egyptian source.
Staff members working closely with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi are tested for coronavirus on a daily basis, an official Egyptian source told The New Arab's Arabic-language service. 

The tests are being carred out to ensure President Sisi doesn't come in contact with an infected person and contracts Covid-19, the source explained. 

The testing is reportedly being carried out by a sophisticated coronavirus testing device, which can show the results within a few minutes to a high level of accuracy.

The source told The New Arab that this testing device, of which there are allegedly only a handful, is being used by a number of world leaders including United States President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Egypt reportedly obtained the device from the United States in the first week of April, the source said, adding that roughly 30 people around President Sisi are subject to the daily testing.

Meanwhile, President Sisi's regime has come under fire for a perceived failure to deal with the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

Egypt has recorded over 10,000 cases and 544 deaths from Covid-19 as of Wednesday. The government has eased the coronavirus lockdown in a bid to salvage the economy, allowing resorts and hotels to reopen.

The hashtag #Fireher_today_andnot_tomorrow (#أقيلوها_الآن_وليس_غدا) was trending in Egypt on Wednesday, The New Arab's Arabic-language service reported, in reference to Egypt's health minister Hala Zayed.

Egypt's doctors syndicate has called on the government to take more comprehensive action to stop the spread of the virus beyond just its "co-existence" plan.

Read more: Egypt adopts a coronavirus 'coexistence plan' as Middle East countries look to end lockdowns

Amid fears Egypt's health service will be unable to cope, the syndicate's letter to the government called for there to be a total lockdown for the last two weeks of Ramadan.

Currently, Egypt's partial lockdown sees a curfew in place from 9 PM to 6 AM. and is set to continue for another two weeks.

'Emergency law'

President Sisi approved amendments last week to the country's state of emergency that grant him and security agencies additional powers, which the government says are needed to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

Human Rights Watch condemned the amendments, saying the government has used the global pandemic to "expand, not reform, Egypt's abusive Emergency Law".

The new amendments allow the president to to take measures to contain the virus, such as suspending classes at schools and universities and quarantining those returning from abroad.

But they also include expanded powers to ban public and private meetings, protests, celebrations and other forms of assembly.

The government has waged an unprecedented crackdown on dissent since 2013, when el-Sissi rose to power, and unauthorized protests have been banned for years.

Parliament, which is packed with el-Sissi supporters, approved the measure last month.

Read more: Sisi uses coronavirus to enshrine new powers at the expense of his people

Egypt has been under a state of emergency since April 2017, and the government extended it late last month for another three months.

The law was originally passed to give the president broader powers to combat terrorism and drug trafficking.

The government said the amendments were needed to address a legal "vacuum" revealed by the coronavirus outbreak.

In response the pandemic, Egypt has halted international air travel and shuttered schools, universities, mosques, churches and archaeological sites, including the famed Giza pyramids.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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