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Sunday, 15 March 2020

Talk shows cover schools shutting down over covid-19, FY2020-21 budget

The shutdown of Egyptian schools and universities was topic du jour on the airwaves last night: Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal reviewed Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly’s press conference, which included discussion of President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s EGP 100 bn package to help prevent the spread of the virus and the decision to suspend schools and higher learning institutions for two weeks.

Egypt is in “stage two” of its response, Madbouly noted: Egypt has a “limited” number of positive cases compared with other countries, but the discovery of cases across a wider geographic spread prompted phase two measures including a ban on large gatherings and school closures. The latter is necessary because a number of new positive cases were students.

Higher Education Minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar told Assal that students aren’t on holiday — lessons and lectures will continue online. Universities will be subject to deep cleaning while students study remotely, he said (watch, runtime: 9:34). Masaa DMC’s Eman El Hosary (watch, runtime: 8:09) and El Hekaya’s Amr Adib (watch, runtime: 6:35) had the same report.

K-12 exams are not being delayed: Adib also spoke with Education Minister Tarek Shawky, who said exams would not be delayed, but will be scheduled in coordination with the Health Ministry with necessary precautions in place. He added that he was in touch with the Communications Ministry who assured him that ISPs will not count time spent on the Education Ministry’s online lessons against families’ data caps (watch, runtime: 7:31). Min Masr’s Amr Khalil also covered the story (watch, runtime: 12:25).

Covid-19 updates: Adib also spoke with Health Minister Hala Zayed, who noted the rollout of rapid detection systems that provide results within an hour. They also discussed a Washington Post article on how an outbreak on a Nile cruise ship reportedly resulted in cases around the globe; Adib said the report maligned the ministry’s efforts. Zayed said that, out of the 171 people on board that were tested, 45 tested positive and many have since recovered and left the country (watch: runtime: 10:06).

Income tax cuts for low earners: Assal also highlighted President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s meeting on the draft FY2020-2021 budget. During the meeting El Sisi called on ministers to raise the tax exemption limit for all workers from EGP 8k to EGP 15k annually and to lower the tax rate for those earning EGP 15-35k to 2.5%. (watch, runtime: 3:29). Khalil also had the same report (watch, runtime: 1:19). We have more on this in this morning’s Speed Round, below.

Pro-Egypt GERD efforts abroad: Assal spoke by phone with community organizer Iman Wehman, who has rallied members of the Egyptian community in New York and New Jersey, and elsewhere in the US, to stage a demonstration in front of the White House and World Bank on Sunday in support of Egypt’s position on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam negotiations (watch, runtime: 2:46).

Correction: 16/03/2020

A previous version of this story incorrectly named Higher Education Minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar as Adel Abdel Ghaffar.

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