The second richest man in Egypt urged the Egyptian authorities to return people to work as soon as the curfew is over and not to extend the periods of the ban, threatening to commit suicide if the measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus exceed two weeks.
Naguib Sawiris said in a television interview widely criticized by workers’ rights defenders that Egyptians should return to work after the two-week curfew ended on April 8 to prevent an economic meltdown.
“We need a revolutionary decision, regardless of the consequences,” Sawiris told Mays Hadidi, a TV presenter, on Saudi Al-Hadath TV.
“Even if people are sick, they will recover.”
“I will commit suicide if they extend the curfew,” he added.
Sawiris, who belongs to the richest family in Egypt, proposed three solutions to end the closure while keeping the country’s economy in good condition.
First, workers are divided into two groups: one that works on marital days and the other on individual days.
As for the second suggestion, it is that employees work and sleep in factories and not return to their families, to reduce their movement.
The third suggestion is to import test kits to enable people to detect illness and quarantine themselves at home.
Sawiris played down the lethal effect of coronavirus, saying it “kills only 1% of patients, most of whom are elderly.”
When the host of the TV program, Sawiris, said that the actual death rate in Egypt is 6%, Sawiris said that Egypt still has one of the lowest numbers of cases in the world.
On Sunday, the Egyptian Ministry of Health reported 609 confirmed cases of Corona virus and 40 deaths.
Sawiris‘ remarks drew a lot of criticism from Egyptian commentators and human rights defenders, some of whom called the businessman to donate a portion of his wealth to support workers during the crisis.
According to one of the comments on social media: “Billionaire Naguib Sawiris has the right to call for immediate action” regardless of the consequences “to save the country. We also call on the government to impose a 10% one-time tax on any person whose wealth exceeds 10 million pounds, and allocate it to a sector Education and health, families of Sawiris and Mansour alone can donate 25 billion pounds.
The Revolutionary Socialist Movement in Egypt issued a statement condemning Sawiris‘ statements as “a manifestation of the true face of capitalism, which is exploitation and the pursuit of profit, even at the expense of the lives of millions of workers.”
The businessman said that his fortune was largely sound because of his investments in the gold sector, which he expected to prosper as a result of the closing of gold stores all over the world, which led to increased demand and prices.