File photo: Passengers wear protective masks upon their arrival, at Cairo International Airport (CAI) in Heliopolis east of Cairo, Egypt February 5, 2020. (Reuters)
All Egyptians returning to the country from abroad must sign a written acknowledgement that they will be quarantined by the authorities, the emigration ministry has said, as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus.
Passengers stranded abroad must sign the agreement in order to be allowed to board their flights home, according to a new decision by the health ministry, the emigration ministry said in a statement.
"All those returning to the country will have to be quarantined in hotels at their own expense, and they will receive all medical services free of charge, just as was the case with those returned from the Chinese city of Wuhan at the beginning of the crisis," cabinet spokesman Nader Saad told a TV programme on Sada El-Balad channel on Tuesday night, commenting on the new measure.
He stated that the tourism ministry in cooperation with the health ministry has managed to provide rooms at the hotels, adding that the hotel accommodation prices have not been announced yet, but that the hotels’ management have promised to offer facilities and discounts.
The decision is due to come into effect on Tuesday, with nationals returning on flights from Paris and London required to comply, the ministry quoted a civil aviation ministry source as saying.
Egypt has grounded international flights until mid-April as part of strict measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus, but the country has since operated several exceptional flights to bring home nationals stranded overseas.
The “mandatory" signing will be applied on all exceptional flights operated by national carrier EgyptAir to bring back home Egyptians stranded abroad, to “protect them and their families," the aviation ministry source said.
On Sunday, dozens of Egyptian returning from Kuwait protested at the airport against the new policy, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported.
Last week, the health ministry said it would extend the 14-day self-quarantine mandated for those entering the country from abroad to 28 days to “allow early detection of any suspected case and monitor the progress of the epidemiological situation.”
Egypt has registered 710 coronavirus cases as of Tuesday evening, including 46 fatalities.