200320 Egypt
People walk in front of closed shops, after Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly ordered all restaurants, cafes, cafeterias, night clubs, shopping malls and shops to shut their doors from 7pm due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Cairo. Image Credit: Reuters

Cairo: Egypt Wednesday announced a new death from the new coronavirus, bringing to 21 the total such fatalities. The country's overall virus infections rose to 442 after the health authorities reported 40 new cases in Egyptians who had been in contact with patients.

The figures were given by Health Minister Hala Zayed who urged Egyptians to stay at home to help stop the spread of the potentially fatal disease.

Her call came a few hours before the start of a nationwide curfew as part of a series of measures to contain the highly infectious disease.

"The aim of the government decisions is to lessen the number of daily infections so that we will be able to cope with them," the minister said at a press conference in Cairo.

"The government decisions mean to stay at home," she added.

The two-week curfew begins across Egypt at 7pm (9pm UAE time) until 6 in the morning. The government also ordered all commercial businesses be closed down from 5 pm and 6 am daily with a complete shutdown on Friday and Saturday, the weekend in Egypt. Grocery stores and pharmacies are exempted from the order.

Violations will be punishable by penalties under the Emergency Law in force in Egypt since 2017, including a fine of 4,000 Egyptian pounds (Dh952) and jailing.

The government also decided to extend by two more weeks the closure of schools and universities across the country.

Egyptian authorities have already taken a set of precautionary steps including the closure of educational institutions, mosques and churches, banning large public gatherings and extending a halt to international flights to the country until mid-April.