March 25, 2020 / 3:03 PM / 15 days ago

Egypt deep cleans pyramids site emptied of tourists

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt began deep cleaning the area around the Giza pyramids on Wednesday as authorities work to disinfect tourist spots closed down by the coronavirus outbreak.

Workers wearing face masks and gloves swept and sprayed the walkways around the bases of the pyramids, as well as the ticket office and a visitor center - though the giant stone structures were not themselves cleaned.

All Egypt’s famed archaeological sites and museums from the Egyptian museum in Cairo to the Valley of the Kings in Luxor have been shut since Monday as authorities try to prevent coronavirus from spreading.

With passenger flights suspended — except for those repatriating the last remaining tourists — officials have been sterilizing hotels and tourist sites up and down the country.

“We started the first phase of disinfection, and there are other phases. We are in the process of disinfecting all tourist sites, though the artefacts themselves require specific materials and (cleaning) must be carried out by a specialised team of excavators,” said Ashraf Mohie El-Din, director general of the pyramids area.

“We are making use of this period to sanitize the entire area, but also to carry out some maintenance work and renovation to have this area ready to accept visitors again,” he added.

Egypt has so far reported more than 400 cases of coronavirus, including 21 deaths.

Most early cases were linked to a cruise ship on the Nile from which both foreign passengers and local crew tested positive, dealing a blow to the country’s crucial tourism sector.

Reporting by Sherif Fahmy; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Alexandra Hudson

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