COVID-19: Faced with the increase in cases, Lebanon fears a disaster scenario

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Beirut | Lebanon is facing a peak in the spread of the new coronavirus which raises fears of a dramatic “European-style” scenario, Health Minister Hamad Hassan warned on Monday, calling for “the last chance” offered by a partial containment to be seized.

• Read also: All developments in the COVID-19 pandemic

The countries of Europe had been faced in March with reports exceeding each day thousands of new cases, sometimes with hundreds of deaths, but Lebanon had initially succeeded in curbing the epidemic thanks to a largely respected containment .

The number of infections with the COVID-19 disease has however started to rise again in this small Middle Eastern country with the summer deconfinement, now reaching a total of 44,482 cases, including 406 deaths.

“The contamination rate in Lebanon reaches 120 cases per 100,000 inhabitants every week, which is considered to be a peak bringing us closer to European scenarios”, Minister Hamad Hassan warned on Monday, quoted by the official news agency ANI.

For comparison, the incidence rate in Paris exceeds 250 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, according to official statistics.

According to Hassan, the death rate in Lebanon has reached “a peak” of 1.2% and this figure should not be “taken lightly”.

The minister described as a “last chance” the decision to confine since Sunday, and for a week, more than a hundred villages and localities.

Contamination also skyrocketed after the explosion at the port of Beirut on August 4, when hundreds of wounded rushed into crowded hospitals, followed by their relatives in panic.

The government resigned after the tragedy, but continues to manage day-to-day affairs.

Authorities fear that the medical sector will quickly be overwhelmed by the influx of patients, especially as three hospitals in Beirut were shut down by the explosion.

“Many hospitals have reached their full capacity,” warned on his Twitter account Doctor Firass Abiad, head of the Rafic Hariri public hospital, the main establishment mobilized in the fight against COVID-19.

“Many patients have been forced to stay in the emergency room or travel long distances to find an intensive care bed,” he added.

Mr. Hassan called on the private hospital sector to get more involved, indicating that only 15 out of 130 establishments welcome patients with COVID-19, seeing there “a failure” and a desire “to escape responsibility”.

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