Ramadan lanterns in Cairo Image Credit: Reuters

Cairo: Egypt on Thursday cut by one hour a nighttime curfew imposed to curb the spread of the new coronavirus in the populous country.

Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouli said that the nationwide curfew will begin at 9pm (11pm Dubai time) instead of 8pm and continue until 6 in the morning daily during the holy month of Ramadan that starts Friday in Egypt.

He added shopping centres, previously ordered to close on Friday and Saturday, will operate throughout the week until 5 in the afternoon.

Services offered at law courts, the traffic department and the public notary offices will resume gradually starting next week, he added at a press conference.

The premier said that the Egyptian economy has been negatively affected by the global coronavirus pandemic, singling out the country's vital tourism industry among the hard-hit sectors.

"The government seizes the opportunity of the month of Ramadan to take measures that signal gradual return to life," Madbouli said.

"But if God forbids, the virus infections have increased, we will take harsher measures," he warned.

Egypt has recorded so far a total of 276 deaths from the Covid-19 out of a tally of 3,659 infection cases.

Authorities have already banned large public gatherings and said mosques will stay shut during Ramadan with the aim of preventing further spread of the virus.