Cairo masks coronavirus Egypt
People wearing face masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) walk in downtown Cairo, after Egypt's government made wearing masks mandatory in public places and public transport, in Cairo, Egypt May 31, 2020. Image Credit: Reuters

Abu Dhabi: Cairo International Airport authorities decided on Wednesday to cancel the mandatory quarantine of Egyptians returning from abroad on exceptional trips organised by the Ministry of Civil Aviation. Instead, they are insisting passengers sign an affidavit to adhere to domestic isolation for several days to ensure that they are free of coronavirus.

Egyptian media quoted an official source as saying that the airport has already cancelled the quarantine on about 450 people who arrived on three exceptional flights from Beirut.

Egypt is expected to cancel the current seven-day quarantine period for Egyptians arriving from abroad, chairman of the state-owned EgyptAir Holding Company Roshdi Zakaria said on Monday.

“Upon their arrival, returnees underwent a coronavirus rapid test at the airport, and those who show no symptoms were asked to spend a quarantine period at home,” a source said.

Those who show coronavirus symptoms, however, will be transferred to isolation hospitals.

In May, Egypt shortened a mandatory quarantine period for Egyptians arriving from abroad from 14 days to one week. Returnees who test negative by the end of the period were allowed to spend the rest of their quarantine at home.

The government is covering the quarantine cost of those staying at university hostels. Those willing to spend their quarantine period at designated hotels in the Mediterranean city of Marsa Alam will have to pay for their stay.

Egypt’s civil aviation ministry will operate additional special flights in the upcoming two weeks to repatriate Egyptians stranded abroad.

The flights will fly to eight destinations including Beirut, Oman, Muscat, Dubai, Jeddah, Riyadh, Baghdad and Sydney.

Egypt is mainly keeping its airspace open to cargo and domestic flights during the flight suspension, which has been in place since mid-March.

Egypt is just operating flights to repatriate its citizens from abroad and has returned home at least 12,000 Egyptians so far.

The country has signalled a “gradual resumption” of international flights in the second half of June or the first half of July, according to statements by Cabinet spokesman Nader Saad earlier this week.