2020 coronavirus pandemic in Lebanon
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|2020 coronavirus pandemic in Lebanon|
|First outbreak||Wuhan, China|
|Arrival date||21 February 2020|
(1 month, 2 weeks and 4 days)
On 12 January, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that a novel coronavirus was the cause of a respiratory illness in a cluster of people in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, who had initially come to the attention of the WHO on 31 December 2019.
|Source : Lebanese Ministry of Public Health. As of April 8, 2020|
On 29 February, the total reached 7 confirmed cases.
On 4 March, total confirmed cases reach 15.
On 10 March, the first coronavirus-related death is recorded.
On 11 March, Rafik Hariri University Hospital announced the second death due to the virus in Lebanon to a 55-year-old man. There were also 9 new cases. The first fully recovered patient was also announced.
On 14 March, 15 new coronavirus cases are announced in Lebanon, bringing the total of 93.
On 15 March, 6 new cases are announced, total at 99. Lebanon declared a state of medical emergency. The government announced the closure of Beirut Airport, seaports and land entrances for 2 weeks, starting from March 18.
On 21 March, Prime Minister Hassan Diab in a televised speech urged people in Lebanon to implement "self-curfew," adding that the lockdown measures will be enforced more strictly by the security forces.
On 26 March, Lebanon imposed a partial curfew from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. to slow the spread of the virus. 35 new cases were also announced, bringing the total number of infected to 368.
On 30 March, there were 446 confirmed cases and 11 deaths.
On 2 April, Philippine ambassador to Lebanon, Bernardita Catalla, died of COVID-19 in Beirut at the age of 62. She was the first Filipino diplomat to succumb to the disease.Human Rights Watch released a report saying that at least 21 Lebanese municipalities have introduced discriminatory restrictions on Syrian refugees that do not apply to Lebanese residents as part of their efforts to combat COVID-19, undermining the country's public health response.
On 4 April, the Minister Of Health department announced that the total cases of COVID-19 are 520.
On 28 February, the Minister of Education Tarek al-Majzoub announced the closure of all educational institutions starting on 29 February until 8 March. The decision was seen as unnecessarily strict by some universities including the American University of Beirut, the Lebanese American University, and the Univeristé Saint-Joseph who called for evidence-based decision-making to avoid unnecessary panic. After initially announcing that it would stay open in the face of the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic, and ignoring the Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education's request that it shut down, in early March 2020 the university announced that it would close down. The universities did ultimately abide by the decision and close after discussions with the Minister of Education. The American University of Beirut has consequently formed an expert committee for independent advising on the pandemic.
On 6 March, the Minister of Health Hamad Hassan declared that "Lebanon is no longer in Coronavirus containment stage" following the entry of several new cases to Lebanon coming from countries previously classified as not infected and urged the population to take preventive measures such as avoiding public venues, like resorts and theaters. Following this statement, the closure of schools, universities, and nurseries was extended to March 14.
In reaction to the pandemic, several religious institutions in Lebanon decided to act proactively changing traditional ceremony methods to limit the spread of the virus. Churches and Mosques have been cleaned and disinfected, and practices have been adjusted. Within Christian communities, churches have emptied fonts of Holy water, and communion is carried out by handing the Eucharist instead of placing directly in the mouth. Similarly, within Muslim communities, it was recommended that people use their own prayer rugs and do ritual cleaning at home. Instructions by both religious parties recommend greetings without hand-shaking nor kissing.
Public places and businessesEdit
On 21 January, weeks before the first case in Lebanon was confirmed, the Lebanese Football Association announced that they would suspend operations due to financial reasons; this suspension caused all remaining games of the 2019–20 Lebanese Premier League season to be cancelled.
On 11 March, all restaurants in Lebanon closed.
On 12 March, most major malls announced their closure until further notice.
On 12 March, the government announced that internet service through the public provider Ogero would be boosted through the end of April, to encourage users to stay home. Other private internet companies and phone line companies followed suit with similar discounts/boosts for their customers.
On 21 February 2020, the international Lebanese website, "Lebanon Info Center", was the first Lebanese website to officially cover the COVID-19 situation in Lebanon, with its page "Lebanon Coronavirus (COVID-19) Emergency", thus, it was the first to offer official emergency and cases numbers, non-commercial recommendations and advice that are based on science and the actual situation on the Lebanese territories.
On 12 March 2020, a media site in Lebanon, The961, announced the launch of a live tracker monitoring the number of confirmed cases, deaths, and recoveries in Lebanon in real-time, manually cross-referencing three sources by directly communicating with the Ministry of Health, World Health Organization and the Lebanese Red Cross. In the announcement thread, The961 founder, Anthony Kantara, explained the frustration of the lack of consistent and clear information as the motivator. The dedicated page also includes the latest news, updates and FAQs surrounding COVID-19.
On 19 March, the Information Minister Manal Abdul Samad launched a government site dedicated to the COVID-19 outbreak in Lebanon. However, the website updates may depend on the ministry availability constraints.
As the first flight introducing coronavirus patients was a flight from Qom, Iran—a city plagued by the coronavirus—some Lebanese citizens and media have cast blame onto Iran and Hezbollah for being silent about the issue and not taking necessary measures against it. Some agents blamed Iran for bringing in the virus to the country. Following that, Information Minister Manal Abdul-Samad warned against involving political tensions in the pandemic.
Lebanon has faced a significant shortage of test kits amidst the outbreak. Al Jazeera reported that undocumented migrants have no access to testing. Refugees of the Syrian civil war are living in crowded refugee camps with poor sanitary conditions and little water. The majority lack residency permits and are afraid they will be deported to Syria if they seek testing or treatment.
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