Egypt forces journo to leave after reporting on high estimation of coronavirus cases
A British-German journalist has been forced to leave Egypt after reporting on a study that said the North African country was likely to have many more people infected with the new coronavirus than had been officially reported.
Ruth Michaelson, who had lived in and reported from Egypt since 2014, left the country after her press credentials were withdrawn on March 17 for allegedly quoting “exaggerated” estimates reported in the study, according to The Guardian.
On Sunday, March 15, Michaelson had reported for The Guardian on a study by Canadian infectious disease specialists from the University of Toronto as well as public health data and news stories suggesting that Egypt had a much higher rate of COVID-19 cases than the number confirmed by the government in Cairo.
The study analyzed flight records, traveler data, and infection rates to estimate that Egypt could have had 19,310 coronavirus cases by early March.
The Egyptian government’s official count at the time period covered by the data was three.
According to The Guardian, an Egyptian official said that the study cited in Michaelson’s story relied on speculation, and that its approach and results had been rejected by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The WHO confirmed that it was unable to verify the methodology used in the Canadian study, also according to the British daily. But the study has been accepted for publication in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.
Two days after the story was published, Michaelson’s press credentials were revoked.
Michaelson was reportedly later advised by Egyptian security officials and Western embassy staff to leave the Arab country.
The Guardian said Michaelson, who flew out of Egypt days ago, had been accused by Egyptian security officials of reporting about an unreliable study, thus spreading panic among Egyptians.