At least 93 people have died during a heat wave in Egypt this week that sent air temperatures soaring to as high as 115 degrees Fahrenheit in southern parts of the country, the nation's official Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported Friday. With high temperatures in the forecast for this weekend, authorities fear the death toll may continue to mount.
Detainees and older people are members of two of the groups at the greatest risk of death during the heat wave. Most of the associated fatalities this week have been older people, MENA said. However, three patients at a psychiatric hospital and three prisoners in a jail also have perished. Demographic information has not been released for all of the dead.
Several hundred people suffering heat exhaustion have been admitted to hospitals, and this figure appears likely to grow as temperatures in Cairo are expected to be in the area of 107 degrees Fahrenheit Sunday.
Egypt's Ministry of Health told residents "not to leave home except for extreme necessity," as it urged people to stay indoors and away from direct sunlight.
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After the spate of deaths and hospitalizations related to heat exhaustion, the Cairo Post published an article with tips to survive the heat wave. It advised readers to stay inside, drink plenty of fluids and avoid very humid locations, as humidity can rapidly lead to dehydration. In a country where most women wear hijabs, or head coverings, and many wear niqabs, head-to-toe coverings, they are at high risk of overheating. Accordingly, the Post encouraged them to wear cotton products, which breathe comparatively easily.
Egypt endured a similar heat wave last summer, when temperatures were also well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit for more than a week.