Egypt deep cleans pyramids site emptied of tourists



a group of people on a beach with a mountain in the background: Members of the medical team spray disinfectant as a precautionary move amid concerns over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak at the Great Pyramids, Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo
a man standing on a rock: A member of the medical team sprays disinfectant as a precautionary move amid concerns over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak at the Great Pyramids, Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo
Members of the medical team prepare to spray disinfectant as a precautionary move amid concerns over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak at the Great Pyramids, Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo
a group of people walking on a sandy beach: Members of the medical team spray disinfectant as a precautionary move amid concerns over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak at the Great Pyramids, Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo
a man that is standing in the sand with Pyramid of Menkaure in the background: A man walks past the Great Pyramids in Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo, amid concerns over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak
A member of the medical team sprays disinfectant as a precautionary move amid concerns over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak at the Great Pyramids, Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo
a stone bench: Entrance to the Great Pyramids in Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo is pictured, as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues
A member of the medical team sprays disinfectant as a precautionary move amid concerns over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak at the Great Pyramids, Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo

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 artifacts themselves require specific materials and (cleaning) must be carried out by a specialized 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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