Workers produce masks at a factory in the free industrial zone of Cairo, capital of Egypt, April 14, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua)
CAIRO, April 22 (Xinhua) -- Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi vowed on Wednesday to return about 3,500 citizens stranded abroad back home amid the country's efforts to protect expats from COVID-19 pandemic.
"We are committed to returning them back home as soon as possible," said the Egyptian president, noting that the country will not forsake any of stranded Egyptians although they are very few in some states.
Aired on the Egyptian state TV, Sisi made the remarks following his attendance of the completion of a newly constructed tunnel under the Suez Canal and his inauguration of other development projects.
He reassured all Egyptian expats saying, "even if our conditions are difficult, we will not forsake you."
"Those who will return will go through quarantine during which they should have a good stay. We are working on a plan to do that," said the Egyptian president.
Over the past weeks, Egypt started to repatriate its citizens stranded abroad via exceptional flights run by flagship carrier EgyptAir despite the flight suspension imposed in the country since mid-March to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.
On April 18, EgyptAir repatriated 216 Egyptian nationals from Toronto after it returned about 250 citizens from Washington earlier in April.
Starting from Thursday, EgyptAir and its affiliate Air Cairo will operate special flights to repatriate Egyptians stranded in several countries including China, the United States, Russia, India, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, the Maldives, Morocco, Algeria, Bahrain and others.
Egypt has confirmed 3,490 COVID-19 cases until Tuesday night, including 264 deaths and 870 recoveries.