Hani al-Gamal – Cairo
The coronavirus is taking a heavy toll everywhere in the world, including in Egypt where it has reportedly killed over 6,000 people so far. Nonetheless, the pandemic is opening the door for the emergence of new professions, ones that had never existed before.
Facemasks had never been popular among Egyptians before the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak. Their use was only limited to health facilities and health professionals. However, the coronavirus outbreak has turned facemask wearing into an every hour necessity for a large number of people in this country. This gave rise to a large number of different facemasks that cater to the different needs of Egyptians.
Taher Sayed has joined many other Egyptians earning a living by selling facemasks on the streets. These people respond to the needs of a large number of Egyptians who had lost their jobs because of the pandemic-induced economic recession. They just want cheap facemasks and people like Sayed are offering them these reasonably priced masks.
Sayed said he sells a packet that contains 50 facemasks for 60 Egyptian pounds (roughly $3.7). “This price – I think – suits everybody”, Sayed told MedyaNews. He added that he earns enough money selling the facemasks now that he can put food on the table for his children every day. “They are selling like hotcakes”, Sayed said of the masks. “This brings me enough money every day”.
Blood pressure checking business
The coronavirus pandemic has also given rise to a profession that had never existed before, namely of checking the blood pressure of people on the streets. Some ordinary Egyptians are buying blood pressure testing machines and using them to earn a living. They usually stay inside train stations in Cairo and invite people to test their blood pressure in return for a small fee. Apart from the blood pressure, the same semi-health specialists also test whether those coming to them are diabetes sufferers.
Noha Abdel Samie has taken up this new job. She uses her machine in testing commuters’ blood pressure in return for a fee of 10 Egyptian pounds (about 62 cents). “People come to me to ensure that they do not have high blood pressure”, Abdel Samie said. She added that the same machine tests the amount of fat in the bodies of the people coming to her.
Street coffee selling
Egyptian authorities shuttered tens of thousands of cafés across Egypt to prevent the coronavirus from spreading. However, this made a huge number of people who used to work in these cafés jobless. Seeking to earn a living and feed their families, some of these people sell tea, coffee and other hot drinks in the open on the streets. They use disposable cups to avoid infection. Saad Sedek is one of these new tea and coffee sellers. “The government’s decision to shut down the cafés curbed coronavirus infections”, Sedek said. “Nevertheless, the same decision turned a large number of people jobless, including myself”.
Municipal authorities are taking a lenient approach to hawkers like Sedek, even as they prevented them from being on the streets in the past. He stands on main roads and waves for motorists with his bright plastic cups. Motorists usually stop and buy the tea and the coffee from him. “I have to be on the street every day, otherwise I will not be able to feed my children”, Sedek said.