As of Tuesday, March 31, Egyptians returning to their country are obliged to sign a written acknowledgement for a mandatory quarantine in efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The policy applies to citizen passengers of government-chartered flights, and further states that the quarantine will take place at hotels at the passenger's own expense. Medical services, however, will be provided free of charge. Grounding of international flights, first established on Thursday, March 19, have been extended on Wednesday, April 1, for two weeks.
Egyptian authorities closed several hospitals on Sunday, March 29, to disinfect facilities after staff became infected with COVID-19. The affected hospitals include al-Salam hospital, the Alexandria University Hospital (north), and al-Shorouk Hospital in Cairo. In addition, several villages across a variety of governorates have been placed under quarantine as of Saturday, March 28, in Upper Egypt due to the amount of local transmissions.
On Sunday, March 29, the Central Bank of Egypt announced a temporary daily cash withdrawal limits of 10,000 Egyptian pounds (USD 636) for individuals and 50,000 Egyptian pounds (USD 3184) for companies. ATM withdrawals are capped at 5000 Egyptian pounds (USD 318). The bank also encouraged the use of digital bank transfers and electronic payments to reduce contact and exposure. Associated fees have been waved.
A nighttime curfew entered into effect on Wednesday, March 25, for two weeks, from 19:00 to 06:00 (local time) each night. Public transportation will be halted, and most public services and government offices will be closed to the public during the curfew. Schools and universities will be closed from Saturday, March 14, through Sunday, April 12. Shops and malls, with the exception of groceries, bakeries, and pharmacies, will be closed on Fridays and Saturdays and will be open from 07:00 to 17:00 on all other days.
As of Wednesday, April 1, there are 710 COVID-19 cases including 46 deaths and 157 recoveries. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the virus.