ISTANBUL/CAIRO - Major mosques and churches reopened in Cairo over the weekend after a more than five-month shutdown. This comes as the number of Egypt’s new COVID-19 cases rise again after weeks of decline.
Only a handful of people in this crowded church are wearing masks, despite the priest imploring worshipers to take precautions against the coronavirus.
After the service, 32- year-old Moza Nazmy says he thinks more people came to pray than normal, supposing the pandemic has led many to contemplate mortality.
But he said, he was surprised people didn’t take more precautions.
Across town at the Al-Azhar Mosque, the coronavirus procedure was more strict when they opened for prayers on Friday.
Worshipers wore masks and carried their own prayer rugs, setting them up about a meter away from each other.
In recent weeks, counts of new COVID-19 cases had been going down in Egypt. But this trend reversed last week, with an average of 180 new cases per day.
And some Egyptians fear that re-opening places of worship sends a message to the public that could lead to a disastrous resurgence of the virus.
Mohamed Osam is a 29-year-old photographer, taking pictures of old and abandoned buildings in Cairo. He says it’s not just mosques and churches he worries about as cafes, trains and other businesses reopen.
And like many places around the world, he says Egypt is emerging from lockdowns without knowing if or when people will be safe.
Hamada Elrasam contributed to this report from Cairo.