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Egyptian health ministry emergency responders stand next to ambulances ready on the scene to transport suspected coronavirus disease cases that were detected on a Nile cruise ship, in the southern city of Luxor late on March 7. Image Credit: AFP

Cairo: Egyptian authorities have intensified measures in the ancient southern city of Luxor to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus after the country’s first virus death was recorded in a foreign tourist who had stayed in the famous Nile destination, officials have said.

On Sunday, Egypt said that a German man, who had visited Luxor, died in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada from the Covid-19, becoming the country’s first such fatality. Some 48 among a total of 55 infections recorded in Egypt were detected on a Nile cruise ship in Luxor, prompting stricter health steps there.

“It has been decided to screen all residents and crew members at hotels and Nile cruise boats operating in Luxor,” head of the city’s Tourism Committee Mohammad Othman said.

Guests on the city’s boats are also to be tested before and after their visits to Luxor monuments, Othman added.

Authorities have, meanwhile, enforced preventive measures at different facilities in Luxor that attracts millions of local and foreign visitors mainly in the winter.

Passengers and workers at the Luxor airport are constantly screened for the virus, according to a senior official.

“All those arriving in or departing from the airport are checked at the quarantine, using thermal screening,” said Maj. Gen, Hussain Salem, the chief of the Luxor airport.

“If a suspected case is detected, the person is immediately transferred to a hospital set up for such cases,” he told private newspaper Al Youm Al Sabaa.

Three government ministers visited Luxor on Sunday and toured the city’s landmark sites to inspect the health situation there after the infections detected on the Nile boat that was on a journey from the neighbouring city of Aswan to Luxor.

All the cases were traced to a US-born Taiwanese woman who had previously stayed on the ship and tested positive for the virus after returning home.

The ministers of health, tourism and civil aviation went to Luxor where they confirmed that the situation there was under control. “We decided to visit the Karnak to send a reassuring message to the world that Egypt is safe and things in Luxor are going on normally,” Health Minister Hala Zayed said.

Tourism is a vital source of national income for Egypt. In recent months, Egypt’s tourism has displayed signs of recovery after years of slump due to the unrest that followed a 2011 uprising.