Lebanon News

Biggest one-day jump in coronavirus patients as 6 new cases confirmed

A taxi driver and passenger wear masks in Beirut, March 5, 2020. (The Daily Star/Mohamad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Six new cases of the coronavirus were confirmed by the Rafik Hariri Hospital Friday, in the biggest one-day jump since the first case was confirmed on Feb. 21.

The total number of cases in Lebanon is now 22. Twenty-one of whom are in the Rafik Hariri Hospital. The Daily Star could not immediately confirm in which hospital the remaining patient is being treated.

Health Minister Hamad Hasan said earlier Friday that "the phase of containing the coronavirus outbreak in Lebanon is over," citing four recent cases whose origins are unknown.

Over the last 48 hours, Lebanon has seen what the minister described as a "development that was unaccounted for": Patients coming from countries that Lebanon has not classed as "infected."

Thursday, a woman who tested positive with the virus flew in from the U.K. A male patient arrived in Lebanon from Egypt Wednesday.

Hasan was speaking at the Bouar Public Hospital following a tour of state-run hospitals in north Lebanon Friday, stressing that “hospitals are the second line of defense” after the family and home quarantine.

He called on all members of the public to take personal responsibility to follow directives issued by the ministry and limit the spread of the disease.

The ministerial committee for combating the virus met Friday and ordered that educational facilities remain closed until March 14 and that a number of venues, such as cinemas and nightclubs, close down.

UNICEF issued a statement calling for communities to "beware of strangers impersonating UNICEF staff for any medical screening" after WhatsApp messages circulated saying medical teams were conducting door-to-door visits.

The U.N. agency said it was assisting with Lebanon's response to the COVID-19 outbreak by supporting screenings at borders, training medical workers and raising awareness of infection prevention and control.





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