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Egypt toughens measures to fight coronavirus

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Cairo (AFP)

Egypt on Thursday ordered the overnight closure of cafes, restaurants, nightclubs and sporting clubs to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The decision, issued by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli and carried in the official gazette, covers the hours between 7 pm and 6 am local time and the closure will run until March 31.

The decree includes "all restaurants, cafes, casinos, nightclubs, bars, malls and any similar facilities selling commercial goods, serving food or providing entertainment services".

It excludes bakeries, grocery stores, pharmacies and supermarkets.

Egypt has so far recorded six deaths, including a German tourist in Luxor, the site of coronavirus cases originating on a Nile cruise boat, out of 210 confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Other measures have been taken to limit social interaction including reducing the number of public sector employees and the closure of schools and universities.

Egypt halted air traffic from Thursday and until March 31.

On Tuesday, Al-Azhar, the Sunni Muslim world's prestigious institution in Egypt, allowed the suspension of mass prayers at mosques.

The coronavirus originated from the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year and has since spread to all corners of the world.

Declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11, the virus has so far killed more than 9,000 people and infected over 217,000 across the globe.

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