File photo of Sharm El-Sheikh International Airport. AFP
The Ministry of Health and Population’s Department of Preventive Medicine announced the new measures on Saturday to facilitate arrival procedures for travellers, on Saturday.
Meanwhile, EgyptAir asked its customers coming from abroad on Sunday to register on Egypt Health Entry Portal ‘Visit Egypt’ in order to obtain a QR code that must be shown in airports upon arrival in order to facilitate the completion of their travel procedures.
“The goal of cancelling the paper forms is to make life easier,” Hossam Abdel-Ghaffar, the health ministry’s spokesperson, told Ahram Online.
“The world is dealing with these issues digitally… All a passenger needs is to fill the required details on the Visit Egypt platform,” the spokesperson added.
The new measures come with the aim of reducing overcrowding at airports, the Egyptian flag carrier said in a statement.
Furthermore, the digital platform will help passengers re-register and retrieve or modify their personal data in case they decide to change the flight date.
Moreover, passengers attempting to book a ticket immediately before their desired flight have access to priority registration on the website, with their data pushed up the quarantine list and given a special label to ensure an expedient review of their request, according to the statement.
The new measures come at a time when Egypt’s tourism sector has been struggling to recover from pressures caused by the fifth wave of the coronavirus pandemic that was brought about by the Omicron variant and — most recently — the Russian-Ukrainian war — the two largest tourism exporters to Egypt.
Egypt’s tourism sector had picked up momentum in the second half of 2021 in light of the return of Russian tourists to Sinai in August and Russia deciding to lift coronavirus restrictions on regular and charter flights to 52 “friendly” countries, including Egypt as of 9 April.
Following the setbacks caused by the spread of the coronavirus in early 2020, Egypt received 3.5 million tourists in the first six months of 2021. This represented revenues of $3.5 to $4 billion, which is almost equal to 2020’s revenues, according to the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.
Egypt, which relies on tourism revenues as a vital source of foreign currency, has been taking measures to support the tourism sector’s recovery, including allowing hotels to run at full capacity while following strict coronavirus measures, according to sources.
Returning to routine cleansing
As part of the new decisions announced by the Department of Preventive Medicine, the exceptional sanitisation of planes after each flight will not be carried out anymore starting Sunday.
Instead, routine cleansing using isopropyl alcohol wipes will be followed again, in accordance with the operating schedules.
In the event of a suspected or confirmed coronavirus case being detected onboard, the plane will be disinfected under the supervision of the Quarantine Department, in accordance with the World Health Organisation’s guide to hygiene and sanitation in aviation.
Abdel-Ghaffar said the decision comes as the country is enjoying improvement in the epidemiological situation as indicated by the ministry’s weekly update on the pandemic nationwide.
Egypt has been reporting a drop in coronavirus cases and deaths as well as hospitalisation rates due to the pandemic over the past weeks.
The average daily coronavirus infection and deaths tolls in Egypt have continued to decline this past week, with the country reporting an average of 400 infections and seven deaths per day, according to the latest weekly update issued by the ministry on Saturday.