Lebanon in ‘race against time’ as coronavirus cases soar

Lebanon in ‘race against time’ as coronavirus cases soar
Municipal workers spray disinfectant in a street in Beirut on Saturday, as part of a government campaign to counter the spread of the new coronavirus. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 22 March 2020

Lebanon in ‘race against time’ as coronavirus cases soar

Lebanon in ‘race against time’ as coronavirus cases soar
  • People told to ‘stay home at all costs’ amid calls for curfew crackdown

BEIRUT: Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab asked the security forces on Saturday to enforce stricter measures to keep people indoors and prevent gatherings to curb a coronavirus outbreak.

In a speech, Diab said this would include patrols and checkpoints, calling on the Lebanese to stay home and only go out if “absolutely necessary.”
Lebanese officials called for tougher emergency measures, including curfews, after the number of coronavirus cases in the country surged to 230 on Saturday, with four victims believed to be in a critical condition.
The Ministry of Health urged people to “adhere to complete domestic quarantine,” and warned that those who ignore repeated government warnings could face criminal prosecution.
Dr. Assem Araji, head of the Parliamentary Health Committee, demanded that emergency measures be stepped up “because people have not adhered to the domestic quarantine.”
As the number of coronavirus cases in Lebanon continued to climb, it was revealed that a former minister, Mohammed Safadi, had also contracted the virus.
“The result of the laboratory examination is positive. He is now in good health and will soon join the list of those recovering from coronavirus disease (COVID-19),” said his wife, former minister Violet Safadi.
Meanwhile, local police issued warnings to people breaching home quarantine and raids were carried out on businesses ignoring the ruling. Penalties were imposed on shop owners defying the government measures.
Municipalities used loudspeakers to warn residents against renting out homes to Lebanese or Syrian families from outside towns and villages “for fear of spreading the virus and to maintain health security.” Syrian residents were also told to refuse visits by relatives or acquaintances.
The warning reached the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, which closed their entry and exit points.
“We are worried about the lack of medical facilities to treat the disease,” an official at Ain Al-Hilweh, the largest Palestinian camp in Lebanon, told Arab News.
Medical and health teams with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, together with Palestinian security forces, began checking people entering or leaving the camp, and disinfecting vehicles and other machinery.

FASTFACTS

• The number of cases reached 230 on Saturday.

• Mohammed Safadi, a former minister also tested positive for coronavirus.

• Authorities urge people to adhere to ‘complete domestic quarantine.’

About 4,000 Lebanese Red Cross volunteers are helping to transport those infected with the virus to hospital.
George Kettana, director general of the Lebanese Red Cross, said: “We receive many calls from all regions and we respond to every possible case.”
Kettana called on people to “be honest and frank so that we do not expose volunteers to danger.”
Some supplies, including protective clothing, had started to run out and international aid organizations are ready to help, he said.
President of the Syndicate of Private Hospitals, Suleiman Haroun, warned that “trying to reduce the number of daily cases is important because it is a race against time.
“If the number of daily cases reaches hundreds, we will not be able to receive all cases. Hospitals capacity is limited and hospitals were not initially prepared to face such a pandemic,” he said.
Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri said: “The pandemic is a treacherous enemy. Please stay in your homes. The quarantine is the only safety line.”
Walid Jumblatt, head of the Progressive Socialist Party, said: “The disease is spreading rapidly because people refuse to stay in their homes.”
“People should be forbidden at any cost from wandering around,” he said.
Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian called for a “general amnesty for prisoners, so that we will not face a tragedy in light of the outbreak of the coronavirus, despite all the precautionary measures.”


Egypt: Iranian nuclear issue should be linked to its regional interference

Egypt: Iranian nuclear issue should be linked to its regional interference
Updated 47 min 6 sec ago

Egypt: Iranian nuclear issue should be linked to its regional interference

Egypt: Iranian nuclear issue should be linked to its regional interference
  • Cairo’s ambassador to the US calls for cooperation with the new administration on range of issues
  • Zahran: Many opportunities for cooperation between Egypt and the US in various fields under new administration

CAIRO: Egypt believes that the Iranian nuclear issue is not the only problem with regard to Iran and its position in the region, according to Motaz Zahran, Cairo’s ambassador in Washington. Tehran’s interference and its efforts to destroy the assets of Arab countries throughout the region is another issue that must be confronted, he said.
Zahran said in a virtual interview with the National Council for US-Arab Relations that there is an opportunity for cooperation with the new US administration in light of the Iranian interference in various conflicts in the region, whether in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq or Yemen, which led to the deepening of their problems.
“The Iranian nuclear issue should not be dealt with separately from Iranian interference in all regional conflicts, and there are discussions between Egypt and the US regarding Iran, with the Republicans and the Democrats,” he added.
The ambassador said Egypt believes that there should not be any unilateral move on the issue of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. He saw a need for the new US administration to play a constructive role in resolving the dam dispute.
There are, he said, many opportunities for cooperation between Egypt and the US in various fields under the new administration of President-elect Joe Biden.
The meeting was moderated by Ed Royce, former US representative, who chaired the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Answering a question on the storming of the Capitol building on Jan. 6, Zahran said it was sad and shocking for Egypt and the whole world, and he linked what happened in America to what Egypt witnessed when some extremist groups — mainly the Muslim Brotherhood — took advantage of large-scale demonstrations and turned them into violent protests.
He pointed out that in both nations there was a widespread national desire for unity among the people which followed the state of chaos. There are some lessons to be learned, the most important of which is that rights and freedoms, in general, are not absolute, but are linked to guaranteeing others’ rights, as well as achieving order, security and public peace.