64-year-old Sonia Abdel-Azim Aref is a doctor who recently lost her life due to coronavirus. Dozens of locals from the Shubra Al-Baho and Mayt Al-Aamal villages in Daqahliya had gathered to protest the burial of the doctor. They believed that her burial would lead to the spread of the disease.
After the villagers had blocked the way to the cemetery for up to five hours, police finally took action and fired tear-gas bombs, arresting 23 of these locals and legal measures were taken against them and Sonia’s body was finally put to rest. The case then was presented to the public prosecution.
The ministry of interior released a statement saying that these protests were incited by online posts from the Muslim brotherhood pages spreading misinformation about the spread of disease.
This incident garnered lots of attention and outrage and many spoke out. The Egyptian Medical Syndicate condemned the incident and called for authorities to push for the maximum penalty of imprisonment from 6 months to two years for citizens who obstruct employee’s work. They also demanded that the protesters undergo trial immediately.
Medical workers were also outraged and feared that the medical staff might face abuse because of their work. Egyptian actor Amr Saad also offered his family’s graves to burying medical staff who die from COVID-19 “Whoever refuses the burial of a person is inhumane, with no kindness, principles and religion,” Saad said in a video on his Facebook page.
Following this incident, Daqahliya Governor Ayman Mokhtar chose to name a school in Shubra al-Baho village after the doctor and stressed that doctors deserve honor and appreciation, “Doctors are the first line of defense against diseases and epidemics, and sacrifice their lives to protect citizens.”
Just last Saturday, Egypt’s medial syndicate announced that three doctors have passed away as a result of COVID-19. They also said that 43 other doctors have tested positive for coronavirus so far. However, it still remains unclear how many of those had contracted the virus while treating patients or at their workplace.
Some hospitals have experienced a large outbreak, including El-Zaitoun Specialized Hospital which was sterilized after at least 23 doctors, nurses and visitors tested positive for COVID-19. Earlier this month, at least three doctors and 12 nurses working at the National Cancer institute also tested positive for COVID-19 which caused calls for the ministry of health to put in place stricter conditions in order to protect healthcare workers and patients.