Forty-five people on the A-Sara Nile cruise ship had tested positive for the novel coronvirus and been moved to a hospital, while scores remain on the boat docked in Egypt's southern city of Luxor (AFP Photo/Khaled DESOUKI)

Egyptian authorities said Tuesday that 25 people who had intially tested positive for the novel coronavirus during a Nile River cruise had since tested negative.

Health Minister Hala Zayed told journalists in Cairo that tests for a total of 26 people had “changed from positive to negative” for the COVID-19 illness, including “25 who had been on the A-Sara boat”.

They would however have to complete a quarantine before leaving the hospital where they are currently staying, she added, without specifying when it would end.

On Monday night, Egypt’s health ministry said the total number of known cases in the country had risen to 59, including three more Egyptians and a foreign woman.-

Egyptian authorities had on Saturday reported moving 45 suspected cases — 33 passengers and 12 crew — from the stricken cruise boat into isolation at Marsa Matrouh, a resort town on the Mediterranean coast.

The scores of others who remained on the boat, including American, French and Indian travellers and Egyptian crew, had been quarantined on board, passengers told AFP.

AFP reporters on Tuesday saw passengers milling about on the top deck of the boat, docked on the Nile at Luxor.

Zayed noted that her ministry had taken “random samples” of tourists and staff at all of Luxor and Aswan’s hotels. The tests administered came back with “100 percent” negative results.

Tourism minister Khaled El-Enany said there had been “a decline in tourism globally including in Egypt but our rates aren’t as severe as other countries.”

Speaking alongside Zayed in Cairo, he noted that his ministry had focused its efforts on Luxor and Aswan “because the sole (virus) problem we have is on a Nile cruise boat travelling to southern Egypt”.


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