Tarawih prayer was sounding through the town center of Dar al-Salam, which sits about 65 kilometers south of Sohag, one day in late April when word began to spread that a “committee” was on its way to ensure that the administrative region was abiding by all COVID-19 precautionary measures as it navigated a surge in cases. As news of the committee’s arrival spread, people closed their shops and markets and rushed to pharmacies to buy masks. 

By the time the hour and half of Ramadan prayers had finished, the rumor had fallen apart. No committee was coming, and everyone returned to normal. I sat down at a small cafe and ordered a cup of tea in a disposable cup, as a precautionary measure. 

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