COVID-19 test required for foreigners to enter Egypt

A lab technician works on investigational coronavirus disease (COVID-19) treatment drug in Cairo, Egypt. (Reuters)
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Updated 09 August 2020

COVID-19 test required for foreigners to enter Egypt

  • Egypt is not the first country to implement this decision

CAIRO: The Egyptian government has banned entry into the country without proof of having had a PCR test for the coronavirus from this Saturday.

The test must come back with a negative result no more than 72 hours before entering the country, according to the Egyptian Cabinet announcement.

It said that the decision applies only to non-Egyptian foreigners. The decision excludes Arab and foreign tourists arriving on direct flights to Sharm El-Sheikh, Taba, Hurghada, Marsa Alam and Marsa Matrouh airports, as well as transit passengers to those airports.

Ahmed Mustafa, a journalist who specializes in aviation affairs, said that the decision was not applied as soon as it was issued because of pre-prepared flight schedules with reservations dating back a month. It was necessary to give passengers a grace period and the decision would come into effect from Aug. 15 so that people had time to be tested.

Mustafa said that most countries were dealing with passengers in the same way and following World Health Organization guidelines, especially after the increase in infections in a number of countries such as Spain.

He said that the decision would also not be applied to tourists coming to coastal governorates but it was forbidden for them to travel from their cities to Cairo without the test.

Mustafa added that the PCR analysis would not exempt passengers from the need to take other precautionary measures, including measuring temperatures.

Elizabeth Shaker, a member of the Health Affairs Committee in the Egyptian House of Representatives, praised the government’s decision, saying that Egypt had responded to the awareness campaigns, and the indicators of the pandemic’s decline confirmed this.

She said that the government’s decision preserved the health of citizens in general, and that most countries had taken the same approach by banning all arrivals unless they presented a PCR analysis.

“This decision will also have positive benefits on tourism and the national economy as it will attract a large number of tourists to Egypt because of the safety measures that it applies,” she said.

A few days ago, Counselor Nader Saad, a spokesman for the Egyptian Cabinet, said that the health and epidemiological situation was under control. He explained that visitors in tourist governorates would not be allowed to leave them, and visitors to Cairo or any other governorate must obtain a virus-free certificate.

“Egypt is not the first country to implement this decision. The UAE preceded it when it announced that all those coming to its lands must undergo a coronavirus examination, in addition to conducting it at the country’s airports,” Saad said. 

Saudi Arabia had earlier announced that it would not allow the entry of citizens from several countries, including Egypt, unless they were carrying the negative results of test analyzes. The UAE also announced that all arrivals, including citizens, residents, visitors and transit passengers, must undergo a PCR examination before entering the country.

The official spokesperson for the Kuwaiti government, Tariq Al-Mezerm, announced that the Cabinet had decided to compel all airlines flying to Kuwait to request a PCR analysis for each passenger at his own expense, confirming that they were free from the coronavirus before boarding the plane.

US says ‘can’t tolerate’ attacks by Iranian-backed militias in Iraq

Updated 57 min 16 sec ago

US says ‘can’t tolerate’ attacks by Iranian-backed militias in Iraq

  • Iraq has long been caught in a tug-of-war between its allies Iran and the US
  • Iraq said Monday it was “not happy” with the reported American pullout threat

WASHINGTON: The US administration warned Thursday that it would not tolerate attacks on American interests in Iraq by Iran-backed militias, as Baghdad worries about a possible US withdrawal.

“We can’t tolerate the threats to our people, our men and women serving abroad,” David Schenker, assistant secretary of state, for near Eastern affairs, told reporters.

Schenker did not confirm or deny a reported US threat to withdraw its troop and close its embassy in Baghdad unless the attacks against them stop.

“We are working, and we look forward to continuing to work with our Iraqi partners to keep our personnel and our facility safe,” he said.

Also on Thursday, the US envoy on Iran Elliott Abrams said Tehran was the “main engine of violence” in the Middle East and remained one of the main sponsors of global terrorism.

Several political and diplomatic sources have told AFP that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued an ultimatum last week that all US personnel would leave Iraq unless the government puts a stop to a rash of attacks against them.

On Monday a wayward rocket targeting American troops killed seven civilians near Baghdad — one of around 40 attacks targeting US interests since early August.

Iraq said Monday it was “not happy” with the reported pullout threat.

A US withdrawal could lead to further pullouts by members of the US-led coalition fighting holdout extremists, which would be “dangerous, because the Daesh group threatens not only Iraq but the whole region,” Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said.

Iraq has long been caught in a tug-of-war between its allies Iran and the US, rendered rockier by Washington’s “maximum pressure” policy against Tehran since 2018.

On Wednesday evening several rockets fell in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region in the environs of a base used by the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, a commander for that group said.

Kurdish Iraqi authorities pinned the blame on the Hashed Al-Shaabi, an Iraqi state-sponsored paramilitary network dominated by pro-Iran forces.

“The single biggest problem in Iraq is the Iranian-backed militias that are undermining stability there, and attacking the United States,” Schenker said.

“The arms are not under the control of the central government. Groups continue to launch rockets at our embassy, attack Americans,” he said.