According to data published by the Lebanese Health Ministry, more than half of the coronavirus (COVID-19) cases that arrived through Beirut-Rafik Hariri International Airport originated in Turkey.
The ministry’s numbers indicate that between Wednesday and Sunday last week, 66 confirmed COVID-19 cases entered Lebanon from abroad, 41 of which had arrived from Turkey.
On Thursday, Lebanon recorded the highest influx of infection cases from the country, which accounted for 80% of all inbound cases that day. Sunday came in second with almost half of the inbound cases arriving from Turkey as well.
Overall, 55% of flights arriving from Turkey have carried passengers who tested positive after landing in Beirut, according to the Health Ministry’s passenger PCR test result data.
As to why that is the case, Dr. Hasan Mallah, the head of the Health Ministry’s center at the airport, told The Daily Star that they believe PCR tests taken before boarding in Turkey are “unreliable” and are not being done properly.
Dr. Mallah also revealed that most new COVID-19 cases among inbound travelers came from Iraq, adding that there are no more than three or four laboratories in Iraq that provide PCR tests.
This gave rise to suspected illegal laboratories that issue fake PCR test results. However, testing has since become more reliable in Iraq and positive cases recorded in Lebanon from there have decreased, Dr. Mallah said.
As of the time of writing, Lebanon has recorded a total of 2,641 positive cases among arrivals since the beginning of the outbreak.
We have a dedicated coronavirus section where you can find the latest news/updates about the pandemic in Lebanon, inform yourself with WHO-verified resources, and track the number of cases in Lebanon in real-time. Click here.