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Tens of Egyptian nationals stranded in South Africa return home

Ahram Online , Thursday 30 Apr 2020
plane landing
File photo: shadow of an Egyptair airplane landing at Cairo International Airport in Cairo (photo: Reuters)
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An EgyptAir flight carrying 75 Egyptian nationals who were stranded in South Africa due to the coronavirus arrived in Egypt’s Marsa Alam from Johannesburg on Thursday, an aviation ministry source said.

The repatriated nationals have been transferred directly to a local hotel in the Red Sea city resort city where they will be under quarantine for 14 days.

They include 40 aerospace students aged 18 to 20, whose studies have been suspended after a total lockdown announced by the country in March, Egyptian ambassador to South Africa Sherif Eissa said late on Wednesday.

The rest of the passengers were in South Africa for tourism or work, the ambassador added.

A total of 170 Egyptians had filed repatriation requests to the Egyptian embassy in Pretoria, South Africa, he said, adding that only those who completed necessary procedures were to be repatriated.

The EgyptAir plane had carried six South African nationals on board in its way to Johannesburg airport.

The Coptic Church in Johannesburg served as an assembly point for Egyptians coming from different South African cities, and Al-Azhar Islamic institute in Pretoria provided busses to transport Egyptians between South African cities, the ambassador said.

Egypt has closed all its airports to international flights since mid-March as part of drastic measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The country has since operated exceptional flights to bring Egyptians stranded abroad back home and allow foreign tourists to return to their country.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi stressed last week that the government is committed to returning an estimated 3,500 Egyptians stranded overseas at the earliest opportunity.

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