20200318_coronavirus
A medical staff member in protective gear checks the temperature of a university employee amid concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19), following the suspension of study for only undergraduate students at Cairo University to prevent it spreading, in Cairo Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: Egypt's state information service (SIS) has demanded an apology from the Guradian for publishing a false report that cited a study by a Canadian medical doctor claiming that the number of people infected with coronavirus have reached 19000 in Egypt.

In a statment the SIS pointed "The General Information Authority, through its role in following up what is published about Egypt in the foreign media, has monitored the release of a press report in the British newspaper "The Guardian" on Sunday 3/15/2020, which includes incorrect numbers and estimates regarding the numbers of new cases of Coronavirus that is newly emerging in Egypt."

Adding that it was also unhappy with number of tweets by the New york times reporter in cairo, who copied the same incorrect and exaggerated numbers.

The official number stands at 196, with six deaths and 26 cases have recovered.

Egypt revoked the press credentials of journalist working for The Guardian and censured The New York Times Cairo bureau chief on Tuesday over "bad faith" reporting on the country's coronavirus cases.

"The correspondents' rush to promote incorrect data does not justify them relying on an unpublished... and scientifically unrecognised study," the (SIS) said in the statement.

"It shows their intentional bad faith to harm Egyptian interests," said the SIS, which is responsible for foreign media accreditation.

The statement followed an article by British journalist Ruth Michaelson published Sunday in The Guardian citing Canadian epidemiologists who estimated Egypt's COVID-19 infections had surpassed 19,000.

The SIS also denounced tweets by The New York Times Cairo bureau chief Declan Walsh citing the same figures. Walsh later deleted the tweets following a backlash from Egyptians online.

The North African country has officially reported 166 COVID-19 cases and four deaths, including two Germans and two Egyptians.

Michaelson and Walsh declined to comment to AFP.

Authorities have warned of tough measures, including jail terms, for anyone who spreads false information concerning the virus.

On Tuesday, police arrested a "Muslim Brotherhood member" for allegedly publishing false information about the death toll of the virus.

Egypt is the world's third worst jailer of journalists, according to rights group Committee to Protect Journalists, and has deported foreign journalists in recent years.