The last guest had checked out, leaving Mr Ahmed Taha sitting on an unmade bed in a deserted room amid rumpled sheets and half-drunk coffee cups, contemplating his future. The coronavirus pandemic was the final blow to his hostel in central Cairo, a jaunty little place on Tahrir Square offering US$35 (S$47) rooms and panoramic views of the elegant Egyptian Museum across the street.
First the foreigners vanished, then the Egyptian overnighters, he said. Now just the thrum of traffic, seeping through an open window, filled the silence. But the transformation of Tahrir Square, he added, started long before Egypt's first case of Covid-19.