Health & Safety in Egypt
The lack of government funding in initiatives to improve the quality of public health in Egypt has led to reduced public health standards. Unless you are willing to contact travelers’ diarrhea or worse illnesses, it is advisable not to eat in public restaurants which do not regularly serve foreigners or not properly sealed bottled drinking water.
The good news is that most of these problems can be avoided by sticking by a few easy rules as follows:
1. Drink only sealed bottled water. If you are not convinced by the taste of the water, regardless of whether the seal was broken in your presence, reject it and request for another one.
2. When a person gets sick from food, the news spreads quickly. Therefore, endeavor to eat out whenever in restaurants having a high population of foreigners as clientele, especially expats.
3. Schistosomiasis, or bilharzia, a parasitic disease caused by flatworms inhabiting the shoreline remains an issue in Egypt. Hence, avoid the mucky banks of the Nile and other waterways.
In the summer months (June to October) there is a very narrow risk of P. falciparum and P. vivax malaria in the oasis of Fayum. Though for about 10 years there has not been any local case reported, you should still apply a good insect repellant and a mosquito net at night if you are visiting the oasis at this period. Anti-malaria medications are not recommended by the World Health Organization for tourists planning a trip to Fayum.
In March 2006 Egypt recorded its first definite case the H5N1 strain of avian flu, and 37 more with 15 deaths by July 2007. These epidemics are bound to happen from time to time so far as the standards of public health remain low and the people/livestock populace mix unhindered.
To be informed prior to travel, visitors should endeavor to check the news and the websites of the World Health Organization (www.who.int/countries/egy/en) as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/destinationEgypt.aspx)
Dietary Red Flags
Tap water in Egypt should be avoided as it is not drinkable. Consume only bottled water from a confirmed sealed bottle, and if in doubt request for another. Typically, this is not an issue since tourist restaurants and upside marketplaces will willingly serve bottled water. If offered a glass of tap water in a private rural home outside the major cities for instance, it is best to decline these courteously.
Fresh fruit juice from the roadside juice shops are a matter of personal opinion but usually best avoided. Breathe in the air within the shop and decide.
Green salads are best avoided all-together as well, even in top hotels. It could be that they were washed in polluted water and may also contain bacteria due to poor farm practices. Other foods to avoid are fruits that were not peeled by you and less carefully prepared poultry.
Bugs, Bites, and Other Wildlife Concerns
There is rabies in Egypt and as such one should be cautious not only with wildlife but semi-domestic animals such as cats and dogs.
Venomous snakes and insects are to be found in the deserts of Egypt, so be careful when hiking; wear cover-toe shoes and avoid getting into nooks and crannies. Use long sticks to overturn rocks and always beware of your feet position. Be aware of the guide accompanying you as to ascertain he is proficient at least in fundamental first-aid administration and emergency management.
Though mosquitoes and other stinging bugs may not be lethal, they can most definitely spoil the good times. Luxury hotels and resorts fumigate appropriately and preserve the quality of rooms. However, if you are lodging in lesser hotels, it is advisable for you to have a bug repellant and insecticide nearby even though there are several toxic sprays to be found in the local marketplace.
Egypt has been affected by poor air quality, especially in Cairo. Some government source claim that the circumstances have gotten better recently, however, levels of lead and particulate in Cairo very often surpass comparatively slack household standards and are very often over the amounts well thought-out to be safe by global standards. Asthmatic visitors or others with respiratory illnesses are strongly advised to cut-down on their duration in Cairo.
Sun/Elements/Extreme Weather Exposure
Egypt is extremely hot during the summer months, with heat waves and sun burns being probable issues. Arm yourself with quality sunscreen, sun hat, and a means of rehydration such as oral rehydration salts available for purchase around LE 20 ($1.3) per dose at most Egyptian pharmacies.
The number of HIV/AIDS cases in Egypt is uncertain. An estimate by UNAIDS in 2017 indicates about 6,230 persons living with HIV in Egypt. With the general reservation connected with AIDS, the low alertness towards the preventive methods among IV-drug users and other high-risk groups, as well as the constraint of getting tested anonymously, it is likely that the reported figures have been understated. Protection against HIV/AIDS like condoms is easily obtainable from pharmacies.
What to Do if You Get Sick Away From Home
The highest rated private clinics and hospitals in Cairo are mentioned the “Fast Facts” segment, but you should note that these services do not match foreign standards.
At all times and in all Egyptian hospitals, cash would be required directly for any services rendered. Therefore, always ensure to have your wallet or purse on you when you arrive at a clinic, in case of an urgent situation.
Discover the extent of medical services covered by your health insurance and also reflect on purchasing medical travel insurance, as Medicare and Medicaid are not active outside the United States.
Seek guidance from your physician prior to your travel if you bear any persistent illness. In order to get through security at the airport, ensure your prescription drugs are properly packed in their original containers with appropriate labels and in your hand luggage. Also have the common name of these medicines with you just in case the local pharmacist does not know the trade name. Keep off from purchasing prescription medicine in Egypt as there is no assurance of its manufacture quality regulations.
Egypt is normally very safe in regards to minor misdemeanors, offering a huge benefit to its visitors’ well-being. Tourists are free to roam about and explore abandoned temples and jam-packed sites confident of their safety.
However, there is growing concern over domestic terrorist activity. Though there has not been an incident in Upper Egypt in several years, Cairo and the Sinai have experienced these with various shootings and explosions in 2005 and 2006 aimed at the tourism sector in Cairo and the Sinai Cape.
These days the government emphasizes the issues in Cairo and Upper Egypt for opinionated gains, while likely understating them in the medium to long term on the Sinai Cape. The suppressive state of the government and economy which led to the 2005 and 2006 strikes remain unimproved, and the stern security response will possibly not yield the desired effects.
Violence requires a lot of aggravation in Egypt and mostly happens in locations and instances that tourists are not likely to come across. Egypt is a strikingly safe country in regards to street felony and arbitrary violence.
Nonetheless, women will experience a high intensity of verbal pestering outside. Self-exposure will be the case in less packed areas, while in jam-packed areas it will shoot up to groping.
Personal safety is dependent on the general rules for both genders. Street fights can become very ugly in no time as tempers can overshoot here in the absence of designated civil enforcement, so avoid them by all means.
The chances a tourist could be targeted is very unlikely, but collateral damage remains possible. Even though many tourist visited areas are safe 24/7, after dark avoid poorly lit isolated locations.
There is little danger to personal safety from political unsteadiness. Cairo has witnessed periodic, typically modest demonstrations by various pro-democracy and reform groups in recent times, and these are best avoided.
Around these demonstrations, the government habitually sends out disguised operatives to hassle and frighten, and this poses a real threat of assault by the police to both locals and foreigners. Women seen as a part of these demonstrations are mainly at risk, as security operatives are known to sexually attack female demonstrators as a means of deterring continuous involvement.
Bear in mind that the Egyptian police does not possess similar standards to that of the West. Social class and connections suggests officers and top positions, and lower positions are not paid appropriately.
Fraud is endemic. If in trouble with law enforcement agents, do not hesitate to buy yourself out directly or through a lawyer. Since most of Cairo is a no-parking zone, these may pose the basic issues which you can pay a few pounds to be free from. However, more serious matters would require you to leave the country, perhaps with the help of your country’s embassy.
Whenever foreigners encounter a problem, law enforcement agencies will typically work hard to try to resolve them. However, in the case of theft or accidents, do not expect much than a friendly face, a cup of tea or coffee, and documentation.
Drugs such as a hashish and cannabis are formally against the law, and penalties, at least in theory, are ruthless. Signs can be seen at the airport warning of harsh penalties for drug possession and trafficking in Egypt.
The reality of the situation is however a little murkier. Though it is normally only Egyptian nationals and non-tourist foreigners who get into serious trouble for drug offences, any participation in illegal dealings can leave you open to blackmail and a swarm of other unnecessary entanglements.
The biggest periodic threat to personal safety in Egypt is likely to be the traffic. Exercise tremendous caution when crossing the road and when driving. Stay away from driving outside the cities during the night. You may choose to hire a cab service from a trusted company rather than driving yourself, as the highways are mainly treacherous.
Many governments sustain consultative pages online that offer useful and current information on everything ranging from the likelihood for political insecurity to the latest outbreaks of avian flu. Registration with your country’s embassy in Cairo can also aid consular officials to caution you of problems and contact you in the event of a situation back home.
Dealing with Discrimination
Regrettably, racial discrimination as well as sexism are both widespread and tolerable in the Egyptian society.
Asians, as well as anyone who has an Asian look may encounter quite distinct challenges. A rising number of economic migrants from China have alerted the Egyptian authorities in the last decade. Usually, the outlook of people in the street will be inclined more towards narrow-minded inquisitiveness than absolute prejudice, but police will tend to be suspicious of independent travelers, and tourists may be subject to arbitrary searches and document checks.
Dressing plays a major role in how you will be addressed and treated in Egypt. Smart-casual outfits are recommended at all times, whenever possible. Dress pants and long-sleeved shirts for men, and long skirts or slack pants with long sleeves for women. Even though this is not very obtainable while traveling, men should however keep off shorts and tank tops, while women should show less skin in order to avoid heightened levels of harassment.
Even in the luxury resort towns like Sharm El-Sheikh or Hurghada, to a minor degree the above dressing applies. Resorts with private beaches have quite strict regulations in regards to local access and staff that are used to Western outfits, but this only applies less on the street right outside. At this point, you will suppose that Westerners have much money but no morals, backed by the sight of short shirts, shorts, or tight pants.