Lebanon has started flying its citizens back home
Lebanon has started flying its stranded nationals back to the country.
The first flights landed weeks after it closed its international airport due to the coronavirus. There are millions of Lebanese who work or study abroad.
The first of four planes touched down in Beirut last night, with 78 passengers from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. A second plane carrying 79 people landed from Abu Dhabi.
Television inside Lebanon carried images of health personel in protective gear taking the temperature of disembarking passengers.
Lebanon has been in lockdown since March 19, in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus. So far, it has infected 527 people in the country, and killed 18.
According to health minister Hamad Hassan, all arriving passengers tested negative for the coronavirus. He said they would still have to remain in self quarantine, regardless.
According to Prime Minister Hassan Diab, more than 20,000 people have asped to be repatriated by the end of the month.
Lebanese people who wish to return home must either test negative for the virus, or be tested immediately upon arrival. They also must pay for their own ticket, and are not allowed to be welcomed by families at the airport.
The government said priority would go to those with pre-existing health conditions, those aged over 60 or under 18, and to families.
The repatriation has received criticism over the price of its repatriation tickets. Currently, Middle East Airlines is offering an economy class flight from Riyad to Beirut for US$650.
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