After a few days spent on the Nile between Aswan and Luxor, seven members of the same family were due to return to France on Saturday March 7. But since Friday, they have been docked, confined to a mini-ocean liner, the To sara, away from the most visited city in Egypt.
“We are very tired, we wear masks and we have the right to go and get some fresh air only on the pontoon”, tells the Point Katia Laflaquière. “It’s very hard, I feel deprived, tired and very anxious for the health of my 6-year-old nephew who is also asthmatic and allergic to lactose”, continues this 47-year-old tourist from Dordogne. On board, several dozen passengers are also prohibited from leaving and their temperature is tested morning and evening. According to Katia, they would be 38 French as well as a few Americans and Asians going around in circles. The French authorities, like Egyptian, refuse for the moment to communicate the details of the nationalities. The American embassy confirmed the presence of nationals on the same boat where the French are trapped. There are also eighteen Indians, according to their embassy.
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Their containment was decided after a previous passenger from the same boat was tested positive at Covid-19, once back in the United States. Tests then carried out on twelve crew members showed that only one of them was affected, said the Minister of Health. In the process, fourteen French passengers carrying the virus were transferred to Marsa Matrouh, on the shores of the Mediterranean, in the public hospital which was requisitioned at the start of the so-called coronavirus crisis. In quarantine, conditions are spartan “in the dusty room and bordering on unhealthy conditions” shared by Céline Laflaquière and her 70-year-old mother, whose “health is very fragile following a stroke”. Access to information is also limited in the absence of radio, television and the Internet.
Call for help
“We want to be repatriated as quickly as possible to France to feel safe and close to our family, asks Katia Laflaquière, her voice trembling, we are ready to accept a new quarantine once in France. The French consulate ensures “to be mobilized for the follow-up of the families affected by the coronavirus” and sent a representative to Luxor, without being able to access the immobilized boat. “There is a lack of exchange and collaboration with the governorate of Luxor,” laments a French source, on condition of anonymity.
The tourism sector, which accounts for almost 14% of GDP, is crucial for both the image and the economy of the country. Local travel agencies report numerous cancellations in March and fear a sharp drop in bookings in April, as the Easter holidays attract millions of vacationers.
Monday, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities conducted checks on all tourist sites in Luxor, from the Valley of the Kings to the various temples and multiple hotels. Tourists and staff alike were prohibited from leaving until they had passed these check-ups, according to the manager of a travel agency. To counter rumors of deserted sites, the secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mostafa Waziri, published photos of tourist crowds in front of the rows of sphinxes, welcoming “the number of tourists visiting the temple of Karnak greater than that of the ‘previous year, at the same period’.