Cairo, April 14 (IANS) Construction work at the Grand Egyptian Museum has continued, albeit at a slower pace, amid precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which has had a significant impact on the tourism industry in Egypt.
Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani on Monday visited the museum to check up on the progress of the project to get the museum ready for visitors, reports Efe news.
Originally, the museum was set to be inaugurated in late 2020, but that has been rescheduled for sometime in 2021.
Around 1,700 workers and 300 engineers and representatives from 33 Egyptian companies have been working to complete about 50 per cent of the daily tasks to get the museum ready, the Ministry said in a statement.
The museum is set to be the world’s largest devoted to archaeology, occupying a plot of land about 480,000 square meters (more than 5 million square feet) in size.
The enormous complex will display items recovered from the massive and priceless treasure found in the tomb of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun, who ruled Ancient Egypt during the 18th Dynasty between 1355 B.C. and 1346 B.C.
The number of the workers and restoration specialists at the site has been reduced and other precautionary measures implemented with an eye toward limiting the spread of the coronavirus.
These measures have included checking workers’ temperature both on arrival at – and departure from – the museum.
The facilities are being sterilized twice a day and workers are provided with medical facemasks, the general supervisor of the Grand Egyptian Museum, Atef Moftah, said in the statement.
The restoration experts and specialists who are working with the archaeological pieces, specifically Tutankhamun’s treasure and his magnificent golden sarcophagus, also must adhere to protection guidelines while they continue with their meticulous work to get the items in the museum’s biggest exhibit ready.
The sarcophagus has been undergoing its first restoration procedures since it was found in 1922 in the pharaoh’s previously undiscovered – and, thus, unplundered – tomb, located in the Valley of the Kings in the southern Egyptian town of Luxor.
Several halls in the Grand Museum will be dedicated to the so-called “boy pharaoh” – because he came to the throne at an early age – and visitors will be able to view more than 3,000 relics that belonged to the king.
In a bid to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Egypt has suspended international flights and closed the country’s archaeological sites, a move that has had a huge impact on the tourist sector.
During the 2019-2020 fiscal year “we expected tourism would (bring in a record) of $16 million, which Egypt has never reached, but we will stop at $11 million,” Planning Minister Hala Helmy said during a presser.
So far, Egypt has registered 2,190 confirmed coronavirus cases and 160 deaths, according to the most recent figures from the Health Ministry.