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Sunday, 1 March 2020

Four new covid-19 cases linked to Egypt

CORONA WATCH- Four new covid-19 cases linked to Egypt: Four people who had recently travelled to Egypt were diagnosed with the covid-19 virus over the weekend. The French health minister confirmed that two elderly French tourists had contracted the virus, and the Ontario government said that a Canadian man had tested positive. A fourth Taiwanese person who had travelled to Egypt and the UAE was reported to have tested positive for covid-19 yesterday.

It remains unclear where the individuals were infected: The World Health Organization said in a statement that none of them exhibited any symptoms while passing through entry points, and that only a small percentage of cases are discovered even if examination procedures are in place.

The tourists didn’t necessarily pick up the virus from Egypt, Health Minister Hala Zayed told El Hekaya’s Amr Adib yesterday (watch, runtime: 3:17). Egypt has taken all necessary precautions and medical teams have examined their places of residence, she said.

Egypt takes preventive measures in airports: Egypt is buying 20 thermal screening gates to be placed in airports to help measure the temperature of passengers arriving on flights, said health ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed, according to Mubasher. Airports have also been instructed to stamp passports with a quarantine logo for all arrivals into the country to indicate that medical examination is necessary.

Egypt holds that there have been no more cases of coronavirus: The government on Friday denied rumors that there are additional cases of coronavirus in Egypt, Ahram Online reported.

But that may not be the case for much longer: Zayed told Adib that there is a high possibility that the virus could spread within Egypt and that even with a highly robust healthcare system it is difficult to prevent it from entering the country.

Egypt’s sole confirmed case of covid-19 fully recovered -Health Ministry: A Health Ministry spokesperson announced on Thursday that the person diagnosed with covid-19 in Egypt has fully recovered and has been discharged from a quarantine hospital.

EgyptAir will cancel all flight reservations of passengers holding “Umrah” visas to Saudi Arabia: The airline’s decision was enacted as of Thursday and maintained until further notice, according to Egypt Today. The cancellations come in light of the Saudi government's decision to temporarily ban entry for Umrah pilgrims and tourists from countries where covid-19 is present.

In worrying news for Egyptian exporters: Shipping companies have increased freight rates for goods from Egypt by 30-50% and a 70% increase for goods heading to China, the local press reports, citing exporters which obtained notifications from international shipping lines.

Shipping prices have been raised because of shortages in Shanghai and Xingang ports, said Maersk’s Sealand, which the domestic press saus has raised shipping prices to northern Europe to USD 1k, and to western Mediterranean countries, including Spain, Italy and Morocco, to USD 900 for 40-foot containers. Safmarine raised their prices for 40-foot containers to USD 1000 to those ports, while CMA CGM raised prices to USD 1,250 for same-size containers to ship to those ports.

The outbreak could even impact the government’s plans to reintroduce capital gains tax on EGX transactions: Unnamed sources told the press that the potential impact of the virus on the EGX have led to calls for the government to shelve its plans to reintroduce the 10% capital gains tax on EGX transactions until markets stabilize and concerns over covid-19 have been addressed. Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said on Thursday that the ministry is almost ready to announce its plans for the tax but didn’t provide further details.

Background: A committee made up of the ministry, the Egyptian Tax Authority, and the Egyptian Capital Market Association has been meeting for weeks to discuss the tax on stock market transactions. The ministry has also been closing in on finalizing draft amendments that will settle whether the capital gains tax will be making a comeback, after being shelved for three years in 2017 in favor of a provisional stamp tax. The three-year period is officially set to elapse in May 2020. You can get a refresher on the proposals for its reintroduction here.

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