Egypt has moved to suspend all air traffic across the country’s airports beginning Thursday at noon and lasting until March 31, as part of efforts to slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.
During a press conference on Monday, Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly added that during the next two weeks all hotels and tourism establishments will be required to carry out a sterilizing and disinfection campaign.
“We have to get prepared when flights return to receive tourists,” he said.
“We as a government are working for one purpose which is to ensure the good health of Egyptian citizens. We know that the decisions are tough and not easy, and we know that there are big losses for many sectors, including the national airline (EgyptAir), whose losses may reach LE 2.25 billion. The tourism sector will have losses,” Madbouly continued.
Tourism is a vital sector in Egypt, with revenue having risen to a record high of $US 12.57 billion in the financial year that ended last July.
He then urged Egyptians to act responsibly during the crisis and to not underestimate its severity.
“God bless Egypt and protect it from all evil,” he concluded.
In addition to the flight suspension announced on Monday, Egypt has also moved to close down schools and universities across the country for two weeks to slow down the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, and has shut down sports centers and gyms and banned cafes from serving Shisha.
Egypt had confirmed 150 cases of the virus as of Monday, according to a report from Reuters.
The Health Ministry has also confirmed two deaths from the virus – one a 60-year-old German tourist and the other a 60-year-old Egyptian woman from Daqahlia.