Coronavirus — Lebanon Calls for Complete Lockdown

  • Lebanese Health Minister Hamad Hassan warned that most Beirut hospitals have been filled with new Coronavirus patients.
  • The total number of infections rose to 8,881, including 103 deaths.
  • Hamad explained that the increase in the number of infections after the Beirut explosion began to appear.

Lebanese Health Minister Hamad Hassan called for the necessity to impose general lockdown measures for a period of two weeks after a sharp increase in cases of COVID-19 disease, at a time when the country is suffering from the devastating effects of the explosion of Beirut Port.

COVID-19 was confirmed to have reached Lebanon in February 2020. As of August 18, there were 9,758 confirmed cases and 107 deaths.

Minister Hassan warned that most Beirut hospitals have been filled with new Coronavirus patients, whose infections have increased in a record number after the port exploded about two weeks ago. “We declare today a state of general alert and we need a brave decision to close (the country) for two weeks,” Lebanese Health Minister, Hamad Hassan told Voice of Lebanon radio.

“We are all facing a real challenge and the numbers that were recorded in the last period are shocking,” Hassan said. “The matter requires decisive measures. Intensive care beds at state and private hospitals were now full,” he added.

He warned that “we have reached the brink of the abyss,” referring to his recommendation to close the country for a period of two weeks while preserving the privacy of the areas affected by the Beirut port explosion, where relief organizations are active. He pointed out that “there are patients suffering from symptoms in more than one area, but no family has been secured for them so far.”

During the past two weeks, Lebanon recorded record rates in the number of infections, the most recent of which was Sunday, when the Ministry of Health announced 456 infections. The total number of infections rose to 8,881, including 103 deaths.

At the end of last month, the authorities announced a temporary closure in two stages, after the high numbers of infections. The second phase of the general closure was supposed to start on Thursday before it was canceled after the explosion that struck the port of Beirut, killing 177 people and wounding more than 6,500 others.

The explosion and a large number of casualties left added to the pressure on hospitals and medical personnel, which were mainly exhausted by the economic crisis in the country and the outbreak of the virus.

On the evening of 4 August 2020, at 18:08 EEST, multiple explosions occurred in the city of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. The main explosion was linked to approximately 2,750 tonnes (3,030 short tons) of ammonium nitrate that had been confiscated by the government from an abandoned ship and stored in the port without proper safety measures for the previous six years.

During an interview with Voice of Lebanon Radio in the morning, Hamad explained that intensive care rooms and special units for the Coronavirus are full in government hospitals in the capital, and “intensive care beds are full” in private hospitals that receive epidemic patients.

Hamad explained that the increase in the number of infections after the Beirut explosion began to appear. He said, “recent events, especially with the explosion, in terms of the number of wounded, first aid, and the popular movements that accompanied the rescue of citizens, have started their effects today.”

He pointed out that the explosion took four hospitals in Beirut out of service “that were equipped to accommodate Coronavirus cases.” Hamad pointed to efforts to completely empty some government hospitals and allocate them to patients with Coronavirus, and to the need to establish more field hospitals.

The director of Rafic Hariri Governmental Hospital, Firas Abyad, warned in a tweet that “without lockdown, the numbers will continue to rise, which will lead to exceeding the hospital’s capacity.”

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) announced, on Sunday, that the death toll among Palestinian refugees in Lebanon has increased since February.

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Benedict Kasigara

I have been working as a freelance editor/writer since 2006. My specialist subject is film and television having worked for over 10 years from 2005 during which time I was the editor of the BFI Film and Television.

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