BEIRUT: The first case of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome was detected in Lebanon, Health Minister Wael Abu Faour said Thursday.
“For the sake of transparency toward the Lebanese public, and the responsibility and concern for the safety and health of the Lebanese, this afternoon one case of a patient was diagnosed with the coronavirus, and he is being treated at one of the hospitals,” Abu Faour said in a statement.
He said that the Health Ministry monitored the safety measures being taken by the hospital and was following up on the treatment of the disease.
“This has led to a significant improvements in the patient’s health and he was allowed to leave the hospital,” Abu Faour said.
He added that the Health Ministry was also following up on epidemiological investigations and surveillance to ensure the virus does not spread across Lebanon.
Abu Faour called on health institutions and medical and nursing staff to take maximum preventative measures and inform the epidemiological surveillance unit of any suspected cases.
The MERS virus, which causes coughing, fever and pneumonia, has killed some 117 people in Saudi Arabia since it was detected in September 2012. Cases have also been reported in Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Oman, Tunisia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Britain.
Abu Faour stressed that there was no need to panic, and called on Lebanese citizens “to take the usual measures for the prevention of respiratory diseases" noting that the cases recorded in some countries, the source being Gulf countries, did not lead to an epidemic.
Earlier, Abu Faour gave an order to activate scanners to detect cases of MERS among travelers arriving at Beirut airport.
“All the suspected cases at the hospitals and after conducting the necessary tests show that so far there is no trace of the coronavirus in Lebanon,” Abu Faour told reporters after a tour of Rafik Hariri International Airport.
He said the scanning devices have been installed at the airport.
Abu Faour has said that Lebanese hospitals are ready to handle patients who have the virus.