Beirut - Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, Nassif Hitti, confirmed in a radio interview that "a medical team will be onboard 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.
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."
"We 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. 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 a coronavirus, and the administrative and practical situation in these countries is not sound. Many obstacles are 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 before boarding the plane. "The necessary equipment will be available onboard, next to a medical team keen on secure the best health conditions for returnees," he added.