- Reviewed: 19 March 2020, 14:54 NZDT
- Still current at: 29 May 2020
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There have been confirmed cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Egypt.
Local authorities in countries and territories with confirmed cases of COVID-19 may impose containment measures including travel restrictions and quarantine requirements to prevent the spread of the virus.
Such measures may be imposed at short notice and specific details may change rapidly, including where and to whom they apply to and for how long. All travellers should stay informed of measures being taken by authorities in the areas they are travelling to. We recommend that all travellers consult the official website or the nearest embassy or consulate of your country or territory of destination to find out about any border controls and other measures that may apply to you.
For information on countries and territories which have COVID-19 related border restrictions affecting foreign nationals, including travellers in transit, please check the International Air Transport Association (IATA) website before you travel. IATA provides a comprehensive list of all countries and territories that have imposed COVID-19 related border restrictions and is being continually updated.
As part of its response to managing the COVID-19 outbreak, the New Zealand Government has some temporary travel restrictions in place in New Zealand. Please refer to the New Zealand Ministry of Health website for up to date information.
On 3 January 2020, an Iranian military commander and Iraqi paramilitary leaders were killed in a U.S. airstrike near Baghdad International Airport.
The security situation in the Middle East region is unpredictable and may become increasingly volatile.
State of emergency
Following attacks on Coptic churches in Tanta and Alexandria on 9 April 2017, Egypt authorities declared a state of emergency to allow for additional security measures to be implemented. New Zealanders currently in Egypt are advised to follow the instructions of local authorities, including any restrictions on movement.
There is a significant risk of terrorism across Egypt, including attacks that specifically target tourists and tourist areas.
Although the Egyptian government’s counter-terrorism campaign has resulted in fewer terrorist attacks since 2015, terrorists continue to have the intent to carry out attacks. Recent attacks resulting and multiple deaths and injuries include:
- On 4 August 2019, at least 20 people were killed by a car bomb near central Cairo’s Manial district.
- On 19 May 2019, a roadside bomb detonated and hit a tourist bus near the Giza Pyramids wounding at least 17 people.
- On 19 February 2019, an individual detonated an explosive device in a neighbourhood near the Al Azhar mosque in Old Cairo, killing himself and three policemen, and injuring several others.
- On 28 December 2018, a roadside blast killed 3 Vietnamese tourists and a local tour guide on a bus near the Giza pyramids. Several others were wounded in the attack.
- On 2 November 2018, gunmen attacked a bus carrying Coptic Christians in Minya, killing at least 7 people and injuring 19 more.
- On 29 December 2017, a gunman opened fire at a Coptic church in the Helwan province, killing ten people and a police officer and injuring ten more.
- On 24 November 2017, a Sufi mosque in Bir al-Abed in North Sinai was attacked by militants and over 300 people were killed.
- On 20 October 2017, Egyptian security forces were ambushed by militants in the Western Desert. A number of security forces were killed in the attack.
- On 14 July 2017, two tourists were killed and four other foreigners wounded in a stabbing attack at a Red Sea beach resort in Hurghada.
- On 26 May 2017, gunmen attacked a bus carrying Coptic Christians in Minya, killing at least 28 people and injuring 25 others.
- On 9 April 2017, explosions occurred in St George’s (Mar Girgis) Church in Tanta and outside St Mark’s Church in Alexandria during Palm Sunday services, killing at least 45 people and injuring more than 100 others.
Although targets often include police and security forces, there is the potential for bystanders to be affected. Explosions and attacks have also targeted government buildings and infrastructure, aviation, metro stations, universities, and Western and other foreign commercial interests. Further incidents are likely.
Terrorist attacks could occur at anytime, anywhere in Egypt and may also be directed at locations known to be frequented by foreigners such as embassies, hotels, bars, restaurants, resort areas, markets, airports, shopping areas, tourist sites, public transport facilities and places of worship.
On 31 October 2015, a Russian charter flight from Sharm el Sheikh to St Petersburg, Russia, crashed in North Sinai. A local branch of the terrorist group ISIL claimed responsibility. Airlines flying into Egypt have been reviewing security arrangements and many airlines have temporarily suspended flights to and from Sharm el Sheikh. You should contact your airline directly if you have concerns about the safety of airline travel in Egypt.
New Zealanders throughout Egypt are advised to exercise a high degree of vigilance at all times and keep themselves informed of potential risks to safety and security by monitoring the media and other local information sources. Follow the advice of local authorities.
There is a significant threat of terrorism in the North Sinai, which remains particularly dangerous. Most attacks have in the past targeted government facilities and security forces. The government has declared a state of emergency and curfew in the area.
Central and South Sinai
While attacks are less frequent than in the North Sinai region, extremist groups have carried out attacks against both tourists and security forces in the Central and South Sinai regions, including in the Sharm el-Sheikh resort area. While increased security measures are in place to protect tourist areas in Sharm el-Sheikh, the region remains an attractive target for terrorists.
Although protests and demonstrations have been less common in recent years, in the past they have resulted in deaths and injuries and they may still occur. You should exercise a high degree of security awareness in public places, including when visiting sites of religious significance. Monitor the media for any developments that may affect personal safety and security and adhere to any instructions issued by the local authorities.
There is a threat of kidnapping throughout Egypt. The threat is highest in the Sinai Peninsula and the remoter areas of the Western Desert. Terrorist groups have kidnapped foreigners, government officials and civilians in previous years.
A threat of kidnapping also exists elsewhere in Egypt and foreigners could be deliberately targeted. Travelling on roads between cities and at times when roads are less busy increases vulnerability. In July 2015, a Croatian national was kidnapped west of Cairo and subsequently executed.
Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and bag snatching, can occur. We advise New Zealanders to be alert to their surroundings at all times and take steps to safeguard their personal belongings.
There have also been reports of violent crime such as robbery, carjacking, sexual assault and burglary. Carjackers generally target four-wheel drive vehicles and have in the past targeted popular tourist areas. There have been reports of taxi drivers assaulting passengers. Scams are common, particularly in and around tourist sites. Be wary of people presenting themselves as government officials or offering apparently free services.
Road and vehicle safety standards are significantly lower than in New Zealand. Vehicle accidents resulting in injuries and death are frequent on Egyptian roads and occur at higher rates than most other countries. We advise against travelling by road outside major urban centres at night because of the increased risk of traffic accidents.
Overcrowding and poor safety standards on ferries have caused accidents on Red Sea ferries and Nile cruisers. Piracy and armed robbery are also risks in the southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. For more information view the International Maritime Bureau's piracy report.
We strongly advise against travel to the Gaza strip because of the extremely dangerous and unpredictable security situation. Restrictions and rules on access to the Rafah border crossing are subject to change at short notice.
New Zealanders considering travel to Gaza should read the travel advisory for Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories and contact the nearest Egyptian Embassy for the latest information on border crossing requirements.
You are required to obtain permission from the Egyptian authorities to enter and exit the Gaza Strip using the Rafah border crossing. People who enter the Gaza Strip through this crossing must leave the same way and may be delayed in the Gaza Strip for an extended period (possibly months) while waiting for approval to return. The New Zealand Government cannot influence or hasten the granting of approval.
You should be aware that the New Zealand Government’s ability to provide consular services to New Zealanders in Gaza is extremely limited.
There are landmines in some desert and coastal areas, notably in the desert areas around El Alamein, along the coast near Mersa Matruh, the Sinai Peninsula and the Red Sea coast south of Suez. Although danger areas are usually well-marked with signage, travellers should seek advice from local authorities on landmine locations if intending to venture off well-marked roads.
General travel advice
New Zealanders are advised to respect religious and social traditions in Egypt to avoid offending local sensitivities. Modesty and discretion should be exercised in both dress and behaviour. Publicising political comments or negative opinions about Egypt, the government, security forces or the President may be considered illegal under Egyptian law. Visitors to Egypt have been arrested following publication of social media posts considered critical of Egypt.
Homosexuality and sexual relations outside marriage are considered immoral in Egypt and foreigners have been arrested and convicted of ‘debauchery’ in the past. In 2017 there were increased prosecutions of homosexuals and civil rights advocates in Egypt.
Photography of military or police personnel and buildings is prohibited. This includes the Suez Canal.
All flights between Egypt and the State of Qatar have been suspended until further notice.
New Zealanders travelling or living in Egypt should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place that includes provision for medical evacuation by air. Medical facilities and services in Egypt are not of the same standard as in New Zealand.
New Zealanders in Egypt are strongly encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The New Zealand Embassy Cairo, Egypt
Street Address 8th floor, North Tower, Nile City building, Corniche El Nil, Ramlet Beaulac, Cairo, Egypt Telephone +202 2461 6000 Fax +202 2461 6099 Email firstname.lastname@example.org Web Site www.nzembassy.com/egypt Hours Sun-Weds 0900-1500 hrs, Thurs 0900-1330 hrs Note In an emergency or if you require urgent assistance, please call the Embassy on +202 2461 6000. Outside of business hours you will be redirected to an after-hours duty service.
See our regional advice for Africa
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New Zealand Embassy Egypt
8th floor, North Tower, Nile City building, Corniche El Nil, Ramlet Beaulac, Cairo, Egypt
Telephone: +202 2461 6000
Fax: +202 2461 6099
Hours: Sun-Weds 0900-1500 hrs, Thurs 0900-1330 hrs