BEIRUT: Lebanon’s confirmed cases of coronavirus have reached 5,000 despite a five-day government lockdown that started last Thursday, as one doctor warned that the health system was “beyond its capacity.”
The Ministry of Health recorded 175 cases on Saturday evening, 155 of whom are residents while 20 were people who had returned from abroad. Two deaths were recorded, raising the death toll to 61. No new recoveries have been recorded, and the total number of people who have recovered from coronavirus remains at 1,761.
The disease spread during Eid Al-Adha at the weekend, reaching villages and towns where no cases had been previously recorded. The Internal Security Forces announced in a communiqué that, on July 31 and Aug. 1, they drew up 555 reports against violators of social distancing and preventive measures. A fresh five-day lockdown is due to start this Thursday.
“Intensive care rooms at Rafik Hariri University Hospital are now full and, if the situation remains the same during the coming days, the hospital will not be able to accommodate the cases requiring intensive care,” Dr. Osman Itani, a pulmonologist and intensive care specialist, told Arab News.
He described the situation as “difficult,” adding: “The number of cases currently exceeds 100 per day, and this is a big problem that cannot be addressed by the health system as it is beyond its capacity. There is a need to restructure hospitals, bearing in mind that hospitals are currently not receiving positive cases, but rather patients just showing symptoms.”
Electricite du Liban (EDL) announced that a number of its staff had contracted COVID-19, and that these employees had come into direct contact with customers at the company’s headquarters. Imad Kreidieh, general director of Ogero Telecom, announced that 17 of Ogero’s staff had tested positive for COVID-19 and that 600 workers had taken a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.
Al-Makassed Islamic Charitable Society Hospital is facing an employee shortage due to COVID-19 infections. Those who have contracted the virus have also transmitted the infection to several others, according to one of the hospital’s doctors. Those with the virus have been asked to self-isolate at home.
Itani said it was difficult to distinguish between people who had coronavirus and those who had other diseases, relaying a recent personal experience at the clinic.
He described how an asthma patient he had been treating for 15 years visited the clinic complaining of shortness of breath, even though she did not leave the house and was committed to anti-coronavirus measures. He said that, upon examining this patient, he learned that she had COVID-19 and that she had contracted it from her children who had visited her at home.
Dr. Firas Abiad is director-general of Rafik Hariri Hospital, which has a section especially for COVID-19 patients. “We are experiencing a health emergency,” he told Arab News. “The problem is not the number, but who needs hospitalization. Of every 100 COVID-19 patients there are 15 who need hospitalization, five of whom will later on need intensive care.”
Itani said that the state of “healthcare confusion” may affect patients who might need hospitalization for a specific symptom but hesitated going to hospital for fear of contracting coronavirus.
“We have seen deaths resulting from heart attacks or strokes, (people) who could have been saved had they come early to the emergency departments,” he added.