The Cabinet held a meeting on Tuesday at the Grand Serail, chaired by Prime Minister Hassan Diab, who underlined that the government has largely succeeded, so far, in containing the Coronavirus pandemic. The effort made by His Excellency the Minister of Health and the Government as a whole has yielded good results, "because we have adopted a scientific methodology."
PM reiterated the need to strictly apply the measures previously taken, especially in light of the unsatisfactory reports regarding the past two days throughout Lebanon; some reports are alarming in some areas with several people behaving as though nothing had happened in the country. He therefore noted that is not a situation that we can possibly regard with any sense of complacency, in order to protect our families, children and parents.
PM also clarified that these measures require that the government ensures social responsibilities towards people with daily incomes. We have formed a social emergency committee chaired by His Excellency the Minister of Social Affairs, which works day and night to develop an emergency social assistance plan. It has therefore been suggested to provide financial assistance, since it is the fastest way to help needy families.
As for the Lebanese expatriates, PM noted the importance of protecting them, and reminded that the government had given a four-day grace period for those who wish to return to Lebanon, so that we would be able to accommodate any Coronavirus case coming from abroad, since the bulk of coronavirus cases in Lebanon came through a person returning from abroad.
Today, expatriates are raising their voices calling for repatriation, as a result of the collapse of the health situation in the country of immigration and its containment in Lebanon.
Within this framework, PM Diab said that "this is good because it means that people are reacting to the campaign discrediting measures taken by the Lebanese government from the outset. This also means, more importantly, that Lebanese are showing increasing levels of trust in their country; I consider this trust a cornerstone for restoring the position of the state in the minds of the Lebanese as the reference, umbrella and shelter."
He then mentioned that during last week's session, the Cabinet had embarked on a plan to secure the return of Lebanese expatriates in a planned manner, after receiving the screening test (antigen) so that we can implement the plan as part of our strategy to contain the Coronavirus epidemic. Since we cannot venture, in an ill-conceived attempt, to repatriate them in a way that undermines every successful effort made so far to contain the spread of the virus. We cannot bear any faltering step, and none of the political forces can stand having on its conscience the spread of the epidemic in the country and the collapse of the health system, as was the case in large countries.
He added: "The government is determined to protect the Lebanese, and we cannot afford to be complacent. Every step we intend to take must be carefully examined. Therefore, any return of the Lebanese expatriates should be subject to the conditions set forth along with His Excellency the Minister of Health, and we must implement the mechanism that we have adopted as part of our strategy."
"We will not relent in strictly applying all the necessary measures that guarantee the safe return of Lebanese expatriates and residents. Therefore, I call upon everyone to handle this issue carefully, in a well-informed way, and based on scientific-evidence. This issue must be tackled in a way which only takes into account the national interest and protects Lebanese residents and expatriates," he concluded.
Afterwards, the Minister of Interior presented a report related to the respect of the implementation of the general mobilization. Also, the Minister of Public Health announced the latest figures for Coronavirus. Then the Minister of Social Affairs listed the logistical preparations to help the most vulnerable categories who need help.
The Cabinet then discussed items on the agenda and the following decisions were taken:
- The approval of a contribution of 400,000 Lebanese Pounds to the most vulnerable families, which will be distributed soon by the Lebanese army.
- The approval of the proposal by the Inter-ministerial Committee tasked with the expatriate repatriation mechanism, which will be modified in the coming two days, with the aim of starting, in principle, its implementation as of this upcoming Sunday, April 5th.