The Cairo International Airport began implementing, on Saturday, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly’s decision to ban entry of foreigners without a PCR test for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
The test must be conducted a maximum of 72 hours before their arrival in Egypt, to prove they do not have the virus.
A Greek airline flight arriving in Egypt on Saturday, carrying 160 passengers, most of them Egyptians, was the first to which the new decision was applied.
Madbouly approved the decision over a week after Minister of Civil Aviation Mohamed Manar’s having made the request for this measure. The decision was made official in early August following its publication in the Official Gazette.
It was due to be implemented last week, but was later postponed to provide airlines operating at Egypt’s airports the opportunity to alert their passengers of the new requirement.
The decision applies only to non-Egyptian travellers, and excludes those arriving on direct flights to Sharm El-Sheikh, Taba, Hurghada, Marsa Alam, and Matrouh airports. Transit passengers arriving to those airports are also excluded from the requirement.
The polymerase chain reaction test, commonly known as the PCR, is administered through nasal and throat swabs and is generally considered the most reliable way to test for coronavirus infections.
International flights to and from Egypt were halted in March due to the global pandemic. On 1 July, the Egyptian government announced the return of flights. The reopening of international flights provided a gasp of fresh air for Egypt’s tourism industry, one of the country’s most active and financially lucrative industries.
The reopening has also allowed many Egyptians stranded abroad to return home. Before the reopening of airports, Egypt saw over 20,000 of its nationals stranded abroad returned to the country on special charter flights.