Like so many other countries around the world, Egypt is also dealing with an outbreak of the coronavirus. It appears that the Egyptian government has taken effective measures against the outbreak, but there are also people that wonder whether everything is as rosy as the government says.
Corona in Egypt: what is the government doing?
Egypt confirmed the first cases of coronavirus on 14 February. It still took over a month before the first real measures were taken. On 19 March the government announced that flight traffic to Egypt would be severely limited. The airports were closed until mid-April to try and curb the spread of the virus as much as possible. The government of Egypt also stated that all cafes, shopping malls, sports clubs and nightclubs were only allowed to be open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. Universities and schools were already largely closed. Supermarkets, pharmacies and other necessary facilities are an exception and are allowed to stay open longer.
Are these the real numbers?
The first person to die in Egypt as a result of the virus was a 60 year old German man who visited Egypt on board of a cruise. This was a wake-up call for Egypt about the possible extent of the coronavirus in Egypt. At this moment, Egypt has stated that there are about 200 cases of coronavirus infection in the country. However, foreign scientists question this. According to Isaac Bogoch, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Toronto in Canada, the actual number is likely a lot higher. Bogoch says that the biggest indication of this is that Egypt has “exported” a relatively large number of travellers to other countries that subsequently turned out to be infected with the coronavirus. This suggests that the number of infections within Egypt itself is quite high. According to Bogoch, this could be as high as 19.000 infections.
The investigation performed by Isaac Bogoch was also reported by newspapers like The Guardian and The News York Times. The Egyptian government did not appreciate this and promptly retracted the press credentials of a journalist from the Guardian. They accused the paper of publicising “fake numbers”. This fits in a pattern of increasing censorship in Egypt regarding reports of the virus. People that protest against the coronavirus policy of the government are arrested or receive fines. This strongly suggests that Egypt is trying to keep the real numbers hidden as much as possible.
Travelling to Egypt: what’s the situation?
With all the news about the coronavirus and the different measures that are being taken by governments around the world, it can be difficult to maintain oversight. A common question is therefore simply whether it is still possible to travel to Egypt.
Unfortunately, the answer is no. The government of Egypt has announced that all flights from and to Egypt between the period of 19 and 31 March will be cancelled. Foreigners are no longer allowed into the country during this period. British tourists already in the country are advised to leave Egypt as soon as possible.
What do I do with my Egypt visa?
Many British travellers had already applied for an Egypt visa for their trip to Egypt. But even with a valid visa these travellers will not be allowed into the country. Under no circumstances will visas already approved for Egypt be reimbursed. However, there might still be a possibility to use the visa, as an Egypt visa is valid for 90 days, or 3 months. This means that, as long as the validity term of 3 months has not expired yet, the Egypt visa can still be used to travel. Of course, this will have to wait until the government open air traffic again.
This likewise means that new applications for visas for Egypt are accepted as normal. For trips that will take place in a few months’ time, a visa application can already be submitted. However, keep in mind that it is not sure how long the measures taken by the Egyptian government will last. The most recent flight ban will last until mid-April, but chances are further measures will be taken.
Take note: the information in this article can be outdated. Before applying for a visa for Egypt, read all about the current state of affairs regarding the coronavirus in Egypt.