File Photo: This picture taken on March 10, 2020 shows an Egypt airplane on the tarmac of Egypt's southern city of Luxor, where 45 suspected COVID-19 coronavirus disease cases were detected and evacuated two days earlier. - Just when Egypt's crucial tourism sector was recovering from years of political tumult and jihadist attacks, the industry finds itself bracing for a potential buffeting by the new coronavirus. Many flights that would have carried visitors to Egypt have been cancelled amid efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (Photo: Reuters)
The Egyptian embassy in Washington has notified Egyptian nationals who have requested to return home that they will be directly contacted by Egypt’s flagship carrier EgyptAir about available exceptional flights that will be operated to bring them back home.
Egypt has grounded international flights until mid-April as part of measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus, but the country has since operated a number of exceptional flights to bring back home Egyptian nationals stranded overseas.
The embassy said EgyptAir will send emails to those wishing to return home about the procedures of booking flights back to Egypt.
The biggest number of Egyptians stranded abroad is in the US, where an estimated 1,000 people wish to return home, Emigration Minister Nabila Makram said earlier this week.
The United States has the largest number of registered coronavirus cases after its infection count overtook those of China and Italy last week. It has recorded 142,746 cases, including 2,490 deaths.
The embassy has urged all Egyptian nationals to comply with preventative health measures, saying that all passengers taking a plane back home should remain in home quarantine for 28 days.
“The detection of any coronavirus case on board the plane means all those who have come in contact with it with during the flight will immediately be transferred to [quarantine] hospitals,” the embassy said in a statement Sunday.
Egypt is working to bring back home dozens of Egyptian travelers stranded while on honeymoon in Southeast Asia’s holiday spots, and hundreds of others in different countries around the world.
This week, the country is operating flights to countries including the UK, France, Kuwait and Canada, the emigration minister said.
The minister also affirmed that talks are underway with Saudi Arabia, which has also halted air traffic, to allow more exceptional flights to repatriate Egyptians.
Last week, Egypt declared a two-week nighttime curfew from 7pm to 6am as part of stricter measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Egypt also extended the closure of schools and universities and shut all gyms, coffee shops and sports clubs.
The total number of coronavirus infections in Egypt now stands at 609 nationwide, while the death toll has hit 40, the latest statement by Egypt’s health ministry said on Sunday.