BEIRUT: The first case of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome was detected in Lebanon, Health Minister Wael Abu Faour said Thursday, assuring that the ministry was making utmost effort to prevent the virus from spreading across the country.
“For the sake of transparency toward the Lebanese public and the responsibility and concern for the safety and health of the Lebanese, [I announce that] a patient was diagnosed with the coronavirus this afternoon and received treatment at one of the hospitals,” Abu Faour said.
Abu Faour said that the Health Ministry monitored the safety measures being taken by the hospital and followed up on the treatment of the patient. He did not specify which hospital had received the patient.
But Abu Faour added that the patient’s health had significantly improved upon treatment and that he left hospital.
Abu Faour said that the Health Ministry was also following up on epidemiological investigations and surveillance to ensure the virus did not spread across Lebanon.
He called on health institutions and medical and nursing staff to take maximum preventive 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 of the contagious disease have also been reported in Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Oman, Tunisia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Britain. MERS is transmitted by close contact.
Abu Faour stressed that there was no need to panic and called on Lebanese people “to take the usual measures for the prevention of respiratory diseases,” noting that the cases recorded in some countries, the source being the Gulf countries, did not lead to an epidemic.
Earlier, Abu Faour gave orders to activate scanners to detect cases of MERS among travelers arriving at the Rafik Hariri International Airport. He later toured the facility.
Abu Faour assured that Lebanese hospitals were ready to handle patients who have the virus.