Egypt's Minister of Health Hala Zayed
Random samples taken from 558 tourists and local staff members at hotels and aboard Nile cruise ships in Luxor and Aswan have tested negative for the new coronavirus, Egyptian Health Minister Hala Zayed said in a press conference aired on television on Tuesday.
"The sample was 50 percent Egyptians and 50 percent foreign tourists," she said.
Zayed held a joint press conference in Cairo alongside Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Enany and Minister of State for Information Affairs Osama Heikal.
According to the latest numbers declared by the Egyptian government, the number of coronavirus cases in the country has reached 59, with 25 cases having now tested negative.
"Fifty-one out of 59 cases that tested positive did not have any symptoms," Zayed said.
The minister added that a new batch of medical testing kits that would show within 30 minutes whether travellers have the coronavirus would arrive in Egypt on Wednesday.
"Egypt is one of the first countries in the Middle East and North African region to have those new novel coronavirus testing kits, which were introduced to the world last week. We worked on a plan to import them quickly and they will arrive tomorrow," she said.
The minister added that the new kits would be used at Egypt's airports, ports and land borders to "ensure the safety of travellers and the protection of those inside Egypt."
She also said that the health ministry had requested more medical teams from the World Health Organization to assist it in its work against the coronavirus outbreak.
Asking about the precautions taken to protect students in schools and universities, Zayed stated that her ministry had a Plan A, B and C to deal with the outbreak.
"So far we are applying Plan A according, which includes spreading awareness. It does not require any lockdown of schools or suspension of study," she said.
No closure of touristic sites
El-Enany denied rumours that spread on Monday that Egypt had locked down touristic attractions.
"No touristic attraction site was closed down on Monday in Egypt," he said, adding that the sites were all open and operating normally.
The coronavirus had not impacted tourism rates in Egypt in February, he said.
"Egypt was visited by 900,000 tourists in February 2020, that is a 4 percent increase over the number of tourists that visited the country in February 2019," he said, adding that the numbers of tourists in March was so far at a normal level compared to previous years.
El-Enany said thousands of tourists had visited touristic attractions like the temples of Philea, Karnak and Luxor in the past ten days. He also said that the occupancy rate in Nile cruisers had reached over 50 percent.
"It is not in our interest to hide anything," said Heikal, the information minister.
He also stated that, starting from Wednesday, all incoming travellers to Egypt will be tested for the coronavirus.