Returning expat causes new coronavirus outbreak in Lebanon

Lebanese people, who were stranded abroad by coronavirus lockdowns, are pictured wearing face masks and gloves as they hold their luggage upon arrival at Beirut's international airport, Lebanon April 5, 2020. (File photo: Reuters)

An outbreak of 42 new coronavirus cases in a single Lebanese town has raised questions about the reopening of the country’s only international airport.

The new breakout of cases in Barja, a town in Lebanon’s Chouf Mountains, was caused by a woman returning from Saudi Arabia, Health Minister Hamad Hasan told local media.

“When expatriates stay at home and don’t cause a situation like what happened in Barja, then we can talk about reopening the airport,” Hasan continued.

Read more: From the coronavirus frontlines: Lebanon’s hotline volunteers work around the clock

He added that governors would meet tomorrow to decide how to deal with repatriation.

Two options being considered are compulsory home quarantine and immediate transfer to government hospitals.

Earlier this week, the government earmarked June 21 for the reopening of Beirut’s airport.

But following the outbreak in Barja, Firas Abiad, director-general of Beirut’s Rafik Hariri University Hospital, expressed his criticism of the proposed reopening.

“Locally, a spike in positive cases in Barja, related to repatriation, was reported yesterday. Internationally, the Swedish model is being scrutinized due to a higher death toll compared to neighbors. With Covid19, there are no black or white, just different shades of grey,” he tweeted.

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Last Update: Thursday, 04 June 2020 KSA 16:27 - GMT 13:27
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