March 15, 2020 / 3:39 PM / 16 days ago

Egypt's central bank ready to intervene if necessary

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt’s central bank said on Sunday it was ready to intervene immediately to maintain banking and monetary stability if necessary, after the government announced steps to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

The central bank instructed banks to cancel fees and commissions for six months on ATM withdrawals, e-payments and transactions made on retail point-of-sale machines. It also told banks to postpone loan repayment demands for small and medium businesses and to suspend penalties for late payments.

The statement said the measures were “in line with the state’s direction concerning coronavirus developments and to ensure the stability and security of the banking sector.”

Egypt closed schools and universities for two weeks on Sunday to prevent the spread of the virus as the number of cases rose, reaching 110 on Saturday. Two people have died.

The suspension of classes follows previously announced measures including the cancellation of large public gatherings, restrictions on the time allocated for mass prayers and the halting of local football league matches for two weeks.

Reporting by Ehab Farouk; Writing by Amina Ismail; Editing by Edmund Blair

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