Egypt Watch

Washington Post: Egypt government lacks transparency in combating coronavirus

The Washington Post has revealed that the American Taiwanese passenger who boarded the Nile cruise ship MS Asara in late January was the beginning of a chain which spread coronavirus in the country. Until the case was discovered the ship hosted at least four other trips and at least 12 of its crew were infected. Hundreds of Egyptian and foreign passengers, including dozens of Americans, were infected with the virus in the period from mid-February to early March, until American authorities discovered the infection in several citizens returning from the trip, including six cases in Maryland and 12 others in Houston. These in turn spread the infection in their own communities. The report revealed that even after informing the Egyptian health authorities on March 1 that the American Taiwanese woman was infected with the virus while boarding the ship, the Egyptian government did not take urgent measures to stop it from sailing and neither did it isolate the crew, but rather allowed it to make another trip on March 5, pending the results of the tests on its crew. This was not the only catastrophe committed by Egyptian authorities. Marty Seslow, vice president of the tourist company that booked the Nile cruises, said that the Egyptian authorities informed the tourists on board the ship that the results of their analysis were negative and that they had sterilised the ship, to reassure them so that they could complete their journey. Twenty-four hours later authorities informed them that the results of their analysis were positive. Three Americans and 16 foreigners were infected with the virus, as well as 12 of the ship’s crew. They were transferred to the isolation hospital in Matruh, while the rest, 26 Americans and 56 foreigners, went into quarantine on the ship. The Egyptian authorities made another mistake and ended the quarantine and deported them to their country via commercial aircraft before the virus incubation period of 14 days had ended. The outbreak of the coronavirus on board the MS Asara destroyed the tourism season in Egypt. There has been a sharp decline in the number of foreign tourists arriving in Luxor in the past several days.