FILE PHOTO: A woman wears a protective mask following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while riding a metro on a line Shubra al-Khaimah to Tahrir Square, on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt March 10, 2020. REUTERS
However, despite having no confirmed cases, Egypt has been hit with restrictions on travel to Qatar and Switzerland.
Since 26 November, Qatar has required a seven-day hotel quarantine period on fully vaccinated travellers arriving from several countries including Egypt. The measure applies to visitors with pre-approved and on-arrival visas.
As for Switzerland, it announced on Saturday it was imposing a 10-day quarantine plus a negative COVID-19 test on travellers from several countries including Egypt.
Abdel-Ghaffar’s announcement came during a cabinet meeting on the same day that was headed by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly to review quick-intervention preventive measures against the Omicron variant in Egypt.
Egypt is one of the countries that have suspended direct flights to and from South Africa as a preventative measure in a decision taken earlier this week.
A PCR IDNow test will be run at entry points on all travellers coming from any country where the Omicron variant has been detected, according to Abdel-Ghaffar.
In the case of positive test results, a regular PCR test will be conducted for further confirmation, and the patient will then be transferred to a fever hospital for isolation. Patients will then be retested seven days later if there are no apparent symptoms.
In the case of negative test results, travellers will be committed to a seven-day quarantine at home and then undergo a PCR test.
Abdel-Ghaffar said during the meeting that Egypt has so far secured 88.1 million doses from all coronavirus vaccine types: Sinovac, Sinopharm, AstraZeneca, Sputnik, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna.
Egypt has so far administered 45.9 million vaccine doses, with 30 million inoculated with an initial dose and 15.9 million fully vaccinated, Abdel-Ghaffar stated on Tuesday.
The health ministry is accelerating its vaccination campaign in an attempt to reach its target of inoculating 40 million people by the end of 2021, reaching a rate of vaccination of nearly 460,000 per day, according to separate statement by Abdel-Ghaffar on Saturday.
On Monday, Egypt approved administering vaccines for 12 to 15-year-old minors upon parental approval starting 1 December.
Moreover, the government approved last week a third booster shot for the most vulnerable groups in the country, estimated at more than 4 million people, starting December.
Earlier in November, Egypt started vaccinating teens aged between 15 to 18 nationwide as part of the country’s expansion of its mass vaccination campaign.
Abdel-Ghaffar has said that work is underway on the Arrive Egypt phone application to speed up the pace of entry for tourists, who will be required to confirm their COVID-19 status by submitting negative PCR tests or proof of vaccination through the application.
Airlines are then obliged to check the authenticity of the submitted data, after which it is reviewed by quarantine teams before the arrival of flights, according to the minister.