Lebanon will no longer require travelers entering the country to undergo polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for the Chinese coronavirus if they have already been vaccinated against the virus, authorities announced on Wednesday.
Travelers who have received a complete dosage of a Chinese coronavirus vaccine are no longer required to present a negative PCR test result to enter Lebanon via the airport or land and sea borders, Lebanese health minister Hamad Hasan said in a statement on March 31.
“Travelers must present an official certificate proving that they have been vaccinated against the coronavirus and that they received their second dose [of a two-dose vaccine] at least 15 days prior to their arrival in the country,” Al Arabiya noted on Thursday. People who have only received a single dose of a two-dose vaccine are still required to present a negative PCR test result.
Lebanese authorities previously required all travelers to the country to present a negative PCR test for the Chinese coronavirus upon arrival. A PCR test is used to detect the genetic material of SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease, i.e. the Chinese coronavirus – within a person’s nasal cavity or throat. A PCR test result may be available within minutes if the sample is tested onsite.
The World Health Organization (W.H.O.) warned on March 8 that countries should not require international travelers to present “vaccine passports” during the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, as this would be unfair to people from countries with limited vaccine availability.
“Vaccination is just not available enough around the world and is not available certainly on an equitable basis,” Dr. Michael Ryan, director of the W.H.O. Health Emergencies Program, told reporters at a press briefing.
The W.H.O. currently advises against the use of coronavirus vaccine passports, as “real practical and ethical considerations” surrounding their implementation remain, Ryan added.
The United Nation’s official health body believes coronavirus vaccine certification as a condition for travel would be unfair to people who cannot be vaccinated for various reasons. Requiring travelers to present a coronavirus “vaccine passport” to move about freely in the world would potentially allow “inequity and unfairness (to) be further branded into the system,” Ryan said.
The European Union (E.U.) recently proposed a coronavirus vaccine passport called a “Digital Green Certificate” that E.U citizens would be required to present in order to travel within the bloc.
“The Digital Green Certificate is digital proof that a person has either been vaccinated against COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus], received a negative test result, or recovered from the virus. It will be in digital or paper format that contains a QR code with a digital signature to protect against forgery and falsification and is completely free,” the European Commission said in a statement on March 17.