COVID-19 infects Syrians in Lebanon, spreads in refugee camp

Lebanese women wearing protective masks walk outside Beirut’s Rafik Hariri University Hospital as cases of coronavirus soars on Sunday. (AFP/File)
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Updated 13 July 2020

COVID-19 infects Syrians in Lebanon, spreads in refugee camp

  • Health minister: Sunday witnessed ‘an unprecedented peak’; cases will remain high

BEIRUT: The number of coronavirus infections in Lebanon exceeded 2,300 on Sunday after 130 people, mostly Syrians, contracted the disease.
The people work for Ramco, which undertakes waste collection and street sweeping in Mount Lebanon and areas in Beirut. They live in a building in the Metn region that is owned by Ramco and houses 240 workers.
The cases were recorded after a routine temperature check on some workers, a measure undertaken by all Lebanese institutions. Tests recorded 120 Syrians and 11 Lebanese workers as having contracted the virus.
The Lebanese Red Cross said it had transferred 131 people, who were confirmed to have the virus, from Roumieh in Mount Lebanon to a confinement building in Beirut’s Karantina area.
One case was recorded in Nabatieh in southern Lebanon, with the municipality saying that the person had been quarantined and that tests had been carried out on people who had mixed with her.
Three cases were also recorded in Rashidieh Palestinian Camp in southern Lebanon. The Rashidieh people’s committee called on all the camp’s inhabitants to maintain public cleanliness, close down all coffee shops, institutions and internet stores, cancel all summer and recreational activities, keep social distancing, wear masks, use sanitizers, and take extreme precautionary measures inside mosques.
Lebanese Health Minister Hamad Hassan said that the number of infection cases would remain high in the upcoming days and that Sunday witnessed “an unprecedented peak” in the number of infections since Lebanon’s first case was recorded on Feb. 21, 2020.

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120 Syrians and 11 Lebanese workers were found to have contracted the virus.

He added that authorities were able to determine the source of the infections, thereby minimizing the possible spread of the disease.
The number of new cases has increased in the past week as many expatriates who returned to Lebanon failed to abide by the precautionary and preventive measures and did not self-quarantine at home until the results of the airport PCR test had been issued.
The minister said that an expatriate who returned to Lebanon did not stay at home. He went to a swimming pool, then participated in a soccer game in a stadium, went to a wedding, and mixed with people even before his PCR test results were released. “Later it turned out that he had contracted the virus while another expatriate, who was infected with the virus, attended a funeral,” Hassan said.
Two Lebanese University students also contracted the virus. One had the disease transmitted to her from her sister who worked as a nurse in a private hospital. The development led the university’s administration to suspend final exams.
Lebanon has witnessed a state of slackness with regards to wearing masks and abiding by general mobilization measures, as only cinemas and theaters remain closed, and public gatherings are still prohibited.
The Ministry of Health intends to endorse measures that keep the economy running, while imposing quarantine on whole buildings or villages.
Dr. Firas Abiad, head of the board of directors and director general of Rafik Hariri University Hospital, said that coronavirus was not an illusion. “Hundreds of thousands have died because of it, and perhaps more people will lose their lives before a medicine is discovered,” he told Arab News. “In order to avoid infection without resorting to full confinement, people should reduce the risks and wear masks, maintain social distancing and wash their hands.”


Libya’s GNA govt detains 35 Egyptian fishermen

Updated 38 min 19 sec ago

Libya’s GNA govt detains 35 Egyptian fishermen

  • The GNA is still holding the fishermen without a clear accusation to justify their detention

CAIRO: The fate of at least 35 Egyptian fishermen hangs in the balance after they were arrested by the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) on Nov. 2 last year.  

The families of the fishermen have appealed to the Egyptian government to step up their efforts to secure their freedom as Cairo has been working on their release since November.

Little is known about the fate of the fishermen in Libya other than their location, after it was leaked to Egyptian authorities that they were held in the Turmina Prison, which is affiliated with the GNA.

The head of the Fishermen’s Syndicate in Kafr El-Sheikh, Ahmed Nassar, said they had not been able to communicate with the fishermen since last November and after their disappearance they came to learn that the GNA authorities had detained them.

The GNA is still holding the fishermen without a clear accusation to justify their detention. Nassar said that the fishermen were not fishing in Libyan territory without a permit.

Nassar explained that the fishermen were working on Libyan boats. Alongside them were a number of colleagues working on boats that belong to the Al-Wefaq government. They were not approached by anyone unlike their detained colleagues who were arrested and sent to prison without being charged with any crime.

The Fishermen’s Syndicate chief said that people had called on the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the government, and the consular section had also been contacted about the matter.

Many of the detained fishermen come from Kafr El-Sheikh, while others come from Abu Qir in the governorate of Alexandria.

The fishermen had been supporting families of up to eight members.

Egyptian authorities say they are exerting great efforts to bring the fishermen back safely, while the fishermen’s families continue to demand safety and justice for the men.