CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt will extend a nationwide night-time curfew by 15 days until April 23 to counter the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said on Wednesday.

Airports will also stay closed until the end of the month, he said in a televised news conference, adding that the curfew would now start one hour later at 8 p.m. local time (1800 GMT) each evening.

The government also extended the closure of schools and universities, while malls, cafes and shops will close at night and on weekends.

Authorities face a challenge tackling the virus in a country of 100 million people where many live in fertile rural areas along the Nile river and public health services can be severely stretched.

Like other countries, Egypt has taken steps to curtail the impact of coronavirus on the economy.

These include a surprise 3% interest rate cut, cash transfers to informal workers, salary payments for laid-off regular employees via an emergency fund, plus an injection of 20 billion Egyptian pounds ($1.27 billion) to support the stock market.

(Reporting by Mahmoud Mourad and Nadine Awadalla; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Mark Heinrich)