Monday’s papers: Conjunctivitis cases continue, mixed reactions to security ban at universities

Today the front-page coverage of state-owned papers Al-Ahram and Al-Gomhorriya share identical reports on the outbreak of viral conjunctivitis cases in Daqahliya, Port Said, and Domiat.

According to Al-Ahram, the number of cases of the infection has reached 1729 in Daqahliya, while 87 cases were discovered in Port Said. The coverage, however, mentions that no infected cases have surfaced in Domiat after the cure of 15 patients recently. The government has launched several campaigns in schools and streets in an effort to curb the spread of the virus throughout the infected governorates.

Al-Gomhorriya leads with the headline: “The black cloud is the reason behind the viral conjunctivitis.” The article quotes the Minister of Health Hatem al-Gabali as saying, “The virus is not dangerous, but it is quickly spread and transmitted.” In addition, al-Gabali predicts a slight increase in the infection rate in the region near the areas of high infection concentration while urging residents to maintain calm.

“There is no need to close schools, because the situation is under control,” al-Gabali said. The article also says the ministry sent a sufficient contingent of specialized physicians and nurses to examine students in all schools located in infected areas.   

Al-Gomhorriya, however, cites sources who attribute the spread of the infection to environmental pollution such as the burning of rice straw. The reports also affirms possible black cloud culpability. 

Reporting on the conjunctivitis issue from different angle, independent Al-Shorouk publishes an expose on the natural history of the viral conjunctivitis, symptoms, and causes of infection. According to the report, protection against infection recommends routinely washing hands with soap and water and avoiding contact with the personal belongings of others such as towels, napkins, and pillowcases.

Al-Ahram bears on the top of its front page a report on the government’s response to the ban on Interior Ministry affiliated security on university campuses. The paper writes that Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif emphasized the government’s respect for the verdict, issued by the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC). According to the paper, Nazif said the verdict will be examined in detail and implemented, but “we also have to ensure the safety of our universities, students, and professors along with achieving independence.”       

Al-Shorouk also covers the same story, reporting that hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood students in Al-Azhar University demonstrated on Sunday in support of the SAC’s verdict, carrying banners that read “Together against oppression,” and “Thanks to SAC’s justice.” 

But the paper also reports that vice president of Helwan University Mohamed al-Nashar said the law was specifically passed for Cairo University and would not be implemented at his university.

In other news, Al-Ahram reports that Minister of Trade and Industry Rachid Mohamed Rachid announced his ministry is coordinating with the Agriculture Ministry to import large quantities of meat, aiming to cover the needs of Egyptians during the upcoming Eid al-Adha.

He added that the government, according to the report, is now implementing a development plan that strives to provide essential commodities for low-income citizens in different governorates.

In unrelated coverage, the front-page of Al-Gomhorriya headlines: “Blair’s sister-in-law converts to Islam.” The daily reports that Lauren Booth, sister of former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s wife, announced her conversion to Islam after experiencing a holy experience in Iran.

The paper, which covers the news piece from the British Daily Mail newspaper, says the 43-year-old journalist and broadcaster wears the hijab, prays five times a day, and visits the nearest mosque to her house. Booth hopes her conversion will change Blair’s perspective on Islam, according to the coverage. 

Egypt's papers:

Al-Ahram: Daily, state-run, largest distribution in Egypt

Al-Akhbar: Daily, state-run, second to Al-Ahram in institutional size

Al-Gomhorriya: Daily, state-run

Rose el-Youssef: Daily, state-run, close to the National Democratic Party's Policies Secretariat

Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned

Al-Shorouk: Daily, privately owned

Al-Wafd: Daily, published by the liberal Wafd Party

Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Arab Nasserist party

Youm7: Weekly, privately owned

Sawt el-Umma: Weekly, privately owned

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