Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi has announced a three-month extension of a state of emergency throughout the country because of health and security concerns.
The decision on Tuesday came as the country battles the coronavirus, which has infected nearly 4,800 people, including the death of 337, according to Johns Hopkins University statistics.
“Given the serious security and health concerns which the country is experiencing, the president has decided to declare a nationwide state of emergency for a period of three months effective from Tuesday,” said the country’s official gazette.
“The armed forces and the police shall take all necessary measures to protect against terrorism, maintain security, and safeguard public and private property as well as people’s lives. Anyone who violates the orders will face imprisonment,” it added.
It was the 12th extension of the state of emergency since it came into effect on April 10, 2017, a day after attacks on two Coptic churches on Palm Sunday that killed at least 44 people.
The ISIL (ISIS) armed group claimed responsibility for the attacks, which also wounded more than 100 people and occurred a week before Coptic Easter, with Pope Francis scheduled to visit Egypt later that month.
The assault was the latest on a religious minority increasingly targeted by the group, and was considered a challenge to el-Sisi who had pledged to protect Egypt’s Christian minority.
Egypt’s state of emergency has allowed the authorities to make arrests and search people’s homes without warrants.