CAIRO: The global spread of the deadly coronavirus has delayed travel plans for thousands of Egyptians.
Long, and at times unruly, queues have formed outside the public health laboratories in Cairo for tests for the virus.
Among those waiting to see if they are free of COVID-19 infection was 30-year-old Mahmoud, who needs to get to Saudi Arabia where he is due to start a new job as an electronics programmer.
He had spent 1,000 Egyptian pounds ($64) to undergo the test, which Saudi Arabia has demanded visitors to the Kingdom take to ensure they are not carrying the killer virus.
Egypt has so far recorded 55 cases of the coronavirus with one reported death, a German male aged 60 who died on Sunday.
Mahmoud, who is from the Egyptian capital, will have to wait four days to find out the results of his test which was taken following the Saudi decision to suspend flights between Egypt and the Kingdom.
“I don’t know what to do. The job I landed is my dream position so that I can ensure a future, a home, a wife and children. I don’t know how long the Saudi decision will last and I don’t know what to do with this virus that dashed my dreams,” Mahmoud said.
Another person waiting for a test in Cairo was 40-year-old Ehab, who was on a two-week vacation as the coronavirus outbreak gained momentum in Egypt and the Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia on Sunday announced it was shutting down all classes in schools and universities as part of measures to contain the spread of the virus.
“I think the Saudi procedures will end after the disease is brought under control, but the question is whether it is so difficult for the Egyptian Ministry of Health, even once, to start recording travelers’ data electronically instead of the present situation in which health awareness is nonexistent,” Ehab said.
Magdy El-Adawy, who is in his late 20s, said the outbreak had temporarily scuppered his plans to join his friends working in Kuwait.
“I have a law degree and have worked in several law firms in Egypt, but I have always dreamt of traveling. My friends succeeded in going to Kuwait, and I communicate with them daily through popular chatting apps. They came close to finding me a work contract there, but God curse the coronavirus, it ruined my plans,” he added.