Coronavirus in the Middle East: situation in Egypt is ‘reassuring’, Sisi says

Brian Whitaker
3 min readApr 1, 2020

Egypt’s efforts to control the spread of coronavirus are “good and reassuring”, President Sisi claimed yesterday as the authorities reported 54 new cases and five more deaths.

“In light of my following-up around the clock on all efforts and measures taken to confront the spread of coronavirus, I believe that what has been achieved so far is good and reassuring,” Sisi said.

Officially, there have been only 760 cases in Egypt but it’s widely believed that many more are undetected or unannounced. Last week the Guardian’s correspondent in Cairo, Ruth Michaelson, was forced to leave the country after writing about a scientific study which said the real numbers probably run into the thousands.

The regime’s own figures show there are outbreaks in at least 19 of the country’s 27 governorates.

Although a night-time curfew has been imposed along with other restrictions, during the daytime social distancing is difficult to maintain and the authorities have not been setting a good example. Last week the health minister held a news conference in a room packed with more than 50 journalists.

Meanwhile, Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris says the country faces economic collapse if people don’t return to work on 8 April — the date when the curfew is supposed to end.

“Even if people get sick, they will recover,” he said, adding that the virus “only kills 1% of patients, who are mostly elderly people”.

Based on the official figures, Egypt’s current death rate is actually 6.5% — the same as that in Iran.

Reassuring? The official number of coronavirus cases in Egypt has grown steadily over the last four weeks

New cases

Iran reported 3,110 new cases of coronavirus yesterday, bringing the official total to 44,605 since the outbreak began.

In the rest of the Middle East, 1,452 new cases have been reported since yesterday’s update, making a cumulative total of 13,715.

The largest numbers of new cases were in Israel (760), Algeria (132) and Saudi Arabia (110).

Algeria 716 (+132)
Bahrain 567 (+52)
Egypt 710 (+54)
Iraq 694 (+64)
Israel 5,591 (+760)
Jordan 274 (+6)
Kuwait 289 (-)
Lebanon 463 (-)
Libya 10 (+2)
Morocco 638 (+64)
Oman 210 (+18)
Palestine 134 (+17)
Qatar 781 (+88)
Saudi Arabia 1,563 (+110)
Sudan 7 (-)
Syria 10 (-)
Tunisia 394 (+32)
UAE 664 (+53)

TOTAL: 13,715 (+1,452)

Daily totals of new cases in the Middle East (excluding Iran) during the last four weeks

Death toll

Iran reported a further 141 coronavirus-related deaths, bringing its cumulative total to 2,898. Elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa the total is 252 deaths — an increase of 30. Nine of those were in Algeria, where patients are being treated with an anti-malaria drug. Oman reported its first death. This is the current list:

Algeria 44 (+9)
Bahrain 4 (-)
Egypt 46 (+5)
Iraq 50 (+4)
Israel 21 (+3)
Jordan 5 (-)
Lebanon 12 (+1)
Morocco 36 (+3)
Oman 1 (+1)
Palestine 1 (-)
Qatar 2 (+1)
Saudi Arabia 10 (+2)
Sudan 2 (-)
Syria 2 (-)
Tunisia 10 (-)
UAE 6 (+1)

TOTAL: 252 (+30)

CLICK HERE for previous updates

For anyone interested: A spreadsheet documenting the new coronavirus cases reported each day in the Middle East (excluding Iran) can be viewed here.

Originally published at



Brian Whitaker

Former Middle East editor of the Guardian. Website: Author of 'Arabs Without God'.