Passengers, some wearing protective face masks, aboard an EgyptAir flight (AFP)
The French and Russian embassies in Cairo have suspended visa issuance amid instability over coronavirus fears, joining countries such as Germany which announced similar decisions.
France's decision applies to all types of visas, including short-stay and long-stay Schengen visas, and all types of passports (official and standard), the French consulate said, in a statement on its website on Tuesday.
The TLS visa application centre, which is in charge of issuing visas for a number of European countries, has also suspended the processing of visa applications and cancelled all visa appointments until further notice, the consulate added.
Also on Tuesday, the Russian embassy said it would temporarily halt visa applications and issuances for “all kinds of visas to foreign citizens" as of Wednesday.
It listed a number of categories excluded from the suspension, including diplomatic and service visas, business visas for international vehicle drivers, international air, sea and train crews, members of official delegations, and visas issued for humanitarian cases such as the death of a close relative.
The two countries join a list of other states who have suspended visa applications in Egypt, including Germany, Switzerland and the Czech Republic.
On Monday, Egypt announced it was halting air traffic at all its airports starting Thursday and until 31 March, in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The government has also shut schools and universities for two weeks, starting this week, and banned large gatherings, in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Following the decision that flights would be suspended, the French embassy urged French tourists to contact their airlines or tour operators to leave Egypt as soon as possible.
Other embassies issued similar statements urging tourists in Egypt to arrange their departure before Thursday.
The United States’ embassy announced earlier this week that it would postpone all non-immigrant visa interviews scheduled between March 15 and April 9, to avoid large gatherings and direct communication.