The Yemeni embassy in Riyadh announced arrangements with a Saudi hospital to conduct free lab tests for its stranded nationals, but those in Sharoura say otherwise
Yemen coronavirus committee waves lab tests for expats stranded in Saudi Arabia
Yemen’s National Emergency Committee for Coronavirus issued a memorandum on Monday waiving mandatory COVID-19 testing for Yemenis trying to return home from the Saudi border town of Sharoura.
The Yemeni embassy in Riyadh announced arrangements with Sharoura General Hospital to conduct free lab tests for its stranded nationals, but those stuck in Sharoura say the agreement never happened.
The committee’s chairman, Salem Al-Khanbashi, said the stranded Yemenis would instead be tested with a thermal device, according to the memo addressed to the head of the land port of Al-Wadea on the Yemeni side of the border.
The decision to overturn previous directives ordering the coronavirus lab tests came after complaints by those stranded in Sharoura of being charged between 700 ($185) and 1,300 (nearly $350) Saudi riyals for those tests.
The thermal tests are free and the results are immediate, although the device can only identify those with fevers, which is a common symptom of COVID-19. People with high temperatures will first be required to quarantine for 14 days before entering Yemen, as some carriers of coronavirus remain asymptomatic.
Meanwhile in Egypt, stranded Yemenis have begun to receive lab tests before being allowed to return home.
Yemen's ambassador to Cairo, Mohammed Marem, told the government-controlled Saba News agency that coronavirus testing began Monday in the central laboratories of the Egyptian Ministry of Health for 180 people daily.
The first flights returning Yemenis stranded in Egypt are expected to start on Wednesday, according to Saba.
Yemen Airways, known as Yemenia, will communicate daily with those on flight schedules to go to the central laboratories 48 hours before their flights, Marem told Saba.
Edited by Ahlam Mohsen and Casey Coombs