Lebanese spy chief tests positive for coronavirus in US

Lebanese spy chief tests positive for coronavirus in US
Almost 80 Lebanese towns have been placed in lockdown by the Ministry of Interior after recording high rates of infection. (AFP)
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Updated 21 October 2020

Lebanese spy chief tests positive for coronavirus in US

Lebanese spy chief tests positive for coronavirus in US
  • Lebanon’s General Directorate of Public Security said that Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim is in ‘good health,’ but will postpone his return to Beirut following the PCR test

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s security chief has been forced to delay his return from an official visit to the US after testing positive for coronavirus following a series of White House meetings.

Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, director-general of the Lebanese Public Security, met with US officials, including David Hale, the undersecretary of state for political affairs; CIA director Gina Haspel; and national security adviser Robert O’Brien during his recent visit to Washington.

Hale, as well as several other employees from the State Department and other executive branch divisions, are now self-isolating for 14 days, US officials said.

Lebanon’s General Directorate of Public Security said that Ibrahim is in “good health,” but will postpone his return to Beirut following the PCR test.

The Lebanese intelligence chief also held talks with senior US security officials in Washington. He was scheduled to hold meetings in Paris before his return to Beirut.

In Lebanon, the number of coronavirus infections during October rose to more than 24,000, climbing past the September total of 22,000.

Since the outbreak began in February, more than 63,000 cases have been reported in the country, with 525 fatalities.

Firas Abyad, director of the Rafic Hariri University Hospital, said: “The situation is unacceptable. If we continue on this path, we will soon reach a point where the number of critical coronavirus cases outweighs the number of available intensive care beds. This will coincide with winter, when the demand for intensive care beds increases for pneumonia cases, for example.”

Abyad told Arab News: “One of the most difficult cases that doctors can face is the death of a mother after giving birth, due to the repercussions of her infection with the coronavirus, and this happened a few days ago in Tripoli.”

Abyad pointed to a “state of denial” among those infected with the virus, saying some “consider it as just a regular flu, and do not think about the consequences of the disease.”

He added: “We have 215 cases that need intensive care in Lebanon. We are not fully occupied yet, but we may be shortly.”

Almost 80 Lebanese towns have been placed in lockdown by the Ministry of Interior after recording high rates of infection.

The one-week lockdown decree issued on Tuesday included the southern Beirut neighborhoods of Ghobeiry, Haret Hreik, Burj Al-Brajneh, Tahwitet Al-Ghadeer and Al-Laylaki.

According to the Mount Lebanon Governorate, some suburbs “failed to abide by individual and collective preventive measures to limit the spread of active infection chains.”

The lockdown includes a ban on “social events, parties and gatherings of all kinds.”

Cafes, gaming lounges, amusement parks, sports clubs and public parks will also be closed under the restrictions.


Don’t fall for COVID-19 vaccine conspiracies, warns Muslim scholar

A protester holds up a placard at a demonstration in London in October against mandatory vaccinations. A leading Muslim scholar in Canada warned people not to believe conspiracy theories about the coronavirus vaccine. (AFP/File Photo)
A protester holds up a placard at a demonstration in London in October against mandatory vaccinations. A leading Muslim scholar in Canada warned people not to believe conspiracy theories about the coronavirus vaccine. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 18 min 29 sec ago

Don’t fall for COVID-19 vaccine conspiracies, warns Muslim scholar

A protester holds up a placard at a demonstration in London in October against mandatory vaccinations. A leading Muslim scholar in Canada warned people not to believe conspiracy theories about the coronavirus vaccine. (AFP/File Photo)
  • Sheikh Mohammed Tahir Al-Qadri says baseless claims go against tenets of Islam because ‘saving lives is an act of worship’

LONDON: A leading Muslim scholar in Canada has warned people not to be taken in by conspiracy theories about the coronavirus vaccine.

Sheikh Mohammed Tahir Al-Qadri said that such views, which are being spread by some on social media in an attempt to discourage people from being vaccinated, go against the tenets of Islam.

“Saving lives is an act of worship,” he said during an interview with Sky News. “At the start of the pandemic, Muslims around the world were among those in the forefront. They put their maximum efforts into saving lives, providing people with food and every kind of necessary support. In the same way, they should come forward now.”

READ MORE: Serious questions over coronavirus origin fuel conspiracy theories

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Al-Qadri, who is originally from Pakistan, sought to reassure his followers and encourage them not to believe false claims about the vaccines.

“Some people are saying that there is alcohol in it, or pork or other things forbidden (in Islam),” he said. “Some say these vaccines may affect certain parts of the brain. What can I say? These are totally baseless claims.

“This is a matter of medicinal development, of life, and it is just the same as when we take paracetamol, antibiotics or aspirins despite their side effects.

“Believing in the medical process is one of the basic teachings of Islam. Islam and the teachings of the Qur’an, the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, is focused on reason, intelligence, scientific research and intellectual development.”