BEIRUT: Health Minister Wael Abu Faour Wednesday reassured the Lebanese that there are no cases of the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus in Lebanon yet, saying hospitals have been trained to combat the virus.
“We have not yet registered a coronavirus case in Lebanon and the suspected case in one of the hospitals turned out to be something else,” Abu Faour told reporters after chairing a meeting with several doctors, medical experts, a delegation from the National Committee for Combating Epidemic, and officials from the World Health Organization.
The meeting, Abu Faour said, was aimed at discussing how Lebanon was dealing with the spread of the MERS virus in Saudi Arabia, which has caused panic in the country.
“We are monitoring suspected cases, taking samples from some of the travelers and raising awareness of the virus [at the airport] ... and training hospitals to find and combat the virus,” Abu Faour said.
He said the WHO had not made any recommendation including a travel advisory.
“I vow to you that the Lebanese government will have enough courage and be the first to inform citizens in case a MERS virus case is detected,” he said. “We can limit its spread if there is a case, God forbid.”
In Saudi Arabia, 117 people have died so far as a result of the virus and a Jeddah hospital was temporarily closed last month after several staff members were infected by MERS.
Saudi Arabia has reported 431 infections since MERS first appeared in one of its regions in September 2012 before spreading across the kingdom.
The WHO said Wednesday that a team of its experts had finalized its mission to the kingdom to examine the spread of the virus, saying that the increase in cases were "due to breaches in WHO's recommended infection prevention and control measures.”