Egypt to Close Airports, Sterilise Hotels due to Coronavirus
Egypt's airports are to close due to coronavirus outbreak (Photo: MikeDotta/Shutterstock.com)
In what will be a major blow to Egypt's long-suffering tourist industry, Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli announced on Monday that the country's airports will be closed from Thursday, 19 March and air travel suspended until at least 31 March.
'These measures are pre-emptive and precautionary in order to ensure that the crisis will not develop as has happened in other countries,' said Madbouli in a press conference in Cairo. 'The aim of this decision is to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.'
The prime minister also announced that while the airports remain closed, tourist facilities and hotels will be disinfected.
Egypt's economy relies heavily on tourism, which was severely impacted after the 2015 bombing of a Russian Metrojet leaving Sharm El Sheikh, and the closure of the airports will no doubt come as a bitter blow to Egyptian tour operators. While the Covid-19 outbreak continues to wreak havoc on the global trade in travel and tourism, the announcement will cause further dismay within the British market, which resumed flights to Sharm El Sheikh less than six months ago.
At the time of Monday's announcement, Egypt had recorded 150 confirmed cases of Coronavirus and three deaths. The Egyptian government has already taken preventative measures including the closure of schools and universities, and shortening prayer time.