Repatriation of Lebanese expats to begin Sunday

The minister underlined the necessity of conducting laboratory tests 72 hours prior to boarding the plane.
by TK Maloy

4 April 2020 | 10:24

Source: by Annahar

  • by TK Maloy
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 4 April 2020 | 10:24

Empty security counters at the arrival terminal at the Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut. (AP Photo).

BEIRUT: Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants Nassif Hitti, confirmed in a radio interview that the ministry "will start with four planes, as we cannot welcome more than 400 passengers per day. The highly anticipated launch will be on Sunday, with flights bound for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and two African countries: Nigeria and the Ivory Coast."

Hitti pointed out that "a large number of Lebanese wish to return to Lebanon and have registered their names in their respective Lebanese embassies and consulates," declaring "the existence of an organizational priority for return."

He did not confirm an exact number. Previous estimates have ranged into the thousands.

The foreign minister added that "a medical team will be on board every plane that accompanies the returning expatriates," noting that it was agreed that a laboratory examination should be conducted on every individual boarding the planes.

"Upon their arrival to Beirut, passengers will undergo another laboratory examination at Beirut airport, in the light of which they either are found to be infected and consequently admitted to the hospital, or they are found free from infection yet still forced to self-quarantine," he explained.

“If any delay was to occur, the repatriation would take place next Tuesday. This is due to the arrangements that each country must make. We should not forget that the whole world is ravaged by coronavirus, and the administrative and practical situation in these countries is not sound. There are many obstacles hindering [this move]," Hitti explained.

He also noted that "PCR examination is no longer available in most countries of the world, but there are certain tests that could, at least, indicate if the person is ill. Upon arrival in Lebanon, the PCR examination will be performed."

The minister underlined the necessity of conducting laboratory tests 72 hours prior to boarding the plane.

"The necessary equipment will be available on board, next to a medical team keen on secure the best health conditions for returnees," he added.

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