Lebanese hospitals struggle with tide of COVID-19 patients

Lebanese hospitals struggle with tide of COVID-19 patients
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Doctors perform rounds in the intensive care unit of the Rafic Hariri University Hospital in Beirut on November 13, 2020. (AFP)
Lebanese hospitals struggle with tide of COVID-19 patients
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A nurse takes care of a COVID-19 patient in the Intensive care unit of the Rafic Hariri University Hospital in the Beirut on November 13, 2020. (AFP)
Lebanese hospitals struggle with tide of COVID-19 patients
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A COVID-19 patient speaks to a member of the medical team at intensive care unit of the Rafic Hariri University Hospital in Beirut on November 13, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 14 November 2020

Lebanese hospitals struggle with tide of COVID-19 patients

Lebanese hospitals struggle with tide of COVID-19 patients
  • One 91-year-old spent 10 days on a trolley in the COVID-19 section at a hospital in Beirut
  • There are more than 44,000 COVID-19 patients in Lebanon, 307 of whom are in critical condition

BEIRUT: As Lebanon entered into complete lockdown for two weeks from Saturday its hospitals are struggling to cope with the number of new COVID-19 patients, which is now around 2000 every day.
One 91-year-old, Zuhair Salem Al-Husseini, spent 10 days on a trolley in the section designated for COVID-19 patients at Makassed Islamic Charitable Society Hospital in Beirut because all the beds there were occupied, his daughter Heba told Arab News.
Al- Husseini spent two days in the emergency department, to complete his treatment at home because there were no isolation rooms. But his children took him back to the hospital as his condition deteriorated and he was treated with remdesivir.
He said that he did not know where he caught the infection because he rarely leaves home. “About 20 days ago, I felt I needed to vomit and I had a very high temperature. From that moment, my journey with fighting the coronavirus began.”
His daughter Heba said that after her father was discharged from hospital he did not receive any special treatment to follow at home.
Al-Husseini said: “I have never been to a doctor all my life, and I do not suffer from any disease. I am a smoker and I used to smoke two or three cigarettes with a cup of coffee before I caught the disease. When I learned about my infection, I was not afraid. I accepted it calmly and said I want to survive and encouraged myself.”
His 80-year-old wife did not contract the virus even though she accompanied the patient during his illness.
There are more than 44,000 COVID-19 patients in Lebanon, 307 of whom are in critical condition, according to Ministry of Health statistics. The total number of cases since last February has exceeded 100,000 cases.
The Minister of Health in the caretaker government, Hamad Hassan, promised that “the two-week-lockdown will witness an intensification of testing campaigns for early detection of those infected with the virus because this diagnosis leads to the immediate isolation of cases at home to relieve the pressure on hospitals.”
Dr. Firas Al-Abyad, director of the Hariri Governmental University Hospital, announced that “the hospital’s beds are full and the hospital can no longer receive any new cases.”
He said that “6 cases arrived on Saturday morning at the hospital emergency room, including 4 in critical condition, and they were kept in the emergency department because there were no vacant beds in the treatment department.”
Al-Abyad said that “the recording of 21 deaths on Friday raised the total number of corona deaths in the past five days to 73.” He anticipated that “Lebanon will record the highest weekly death rate resulting from Corona since the beginning of the pandemic.”


Arab coalition says over 100 Houthis killed in strikes on Juba and Al-Kasarah

Arab coalition says over 100 Houthis killed in strikes on Juba and Al-Kasarah
Updated 27 October 2021

Arab coalition says over 100 Houthis killed in strikes on Juba and Al-Kasarah

Arab coalition says over 100 Houthis killed in strikes on Juba and Al-Kasarah
  • 13 military vehicles had also been destroyed in the 26 strikes carried out by the coalition on Juba and Al-Kasarah
  • The coalition has reported heavy strikes around Marib in recent weeks

RIYADH: The Arab coalition said on Wednesday that more than 105 Houthis were killed during air strikes on two districts near the central Yemeni city of Marib.

The coalition added that 13 military vehicles had also been destroyed in the 26 strikes carried out on Juba and Al-Kasarah during the last 24 hours.

Juba is some 50 km south of Marib, whilst Al-Kasarah is 30 km northwest of the city.

The coalition has reported heavy strikes around Marib in recent weeks.


Israel advances plans for more than 3,000 settler homes

Israel advances plans for more than 3,000 settler homes
Updated 27 October 2021

Israel advances plans for more than 3,000 settler homes

Israel advances plans for more than 3,000 settler homes
  • The Civil Administration’s high planning committee gave the final green light to 1,800 homes and initial approval for another 1,344
  • About 475,000 Israeli Jews live in settlements in the West Bank, which are considered illegal under international law

JERUSALEM: Israel advanced plans for building more than 3,000 settler homes in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, a military spokesman said, a day after the US forcefully criticized such construction.
The Civil Administration’s high planning committee gave the final green light to 1,800 homes and initial approval for another 1,344, a spokesman for the military body that oversees civilian matters in the Palestinian territories told AFP.
The approvals came a day after the United States criticized Israel for its policy of building settlements, with President Joe Biden’s administration saying it “strongly” opposed new construction on the West Bank.
His administration’s position on the matter stands in stark contrast to that of his predecessor Donald Trump, whose presidency saw the US offer a green light to Israel’s activity on occupied Palestinian land.
The homes approved on Wednesday were spread across the West Bank, from the suburbs of Jerusalem to new neighborhoods of settlements deep inside the territory.
Israel’s housing ministry had separately on Sunday published tenders to build 1,355 new homes in the West Bank.
About 475,000 Israeli Jews live in settlements in the West Bank, which are considered illegal under international law, on land Palestinians claim as part of their future state.
Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem has continued under every Israeli government since 1967.


World Bank suspends aid to Sudan after military coup

World Bank suspends aid to Sudan after military coup
Updated 27 October 2021

World Bank suspends aid to Sudan after military coup

World Bank suspends aid to Sudan after military coup
  • It is the latest blow to the impoverished African nation
  • The military on Monday seized Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and briefly detained him in a coup

WASHINGTON: The World Bank said Wednesday it has suspended aid to Sudan following the military takeover that deposed the prime minister.
“I am greatly concerned by recent events in Sudan, and I fear the dramatic impact this can have on the country’s social and economic recovery and development,” World Bank President David Malpass said in a statement.
It was the latest blow to the impoverished African nation that had just won its way back into good standing with major Washington-based development lenders after years in the wilderness.
The military on Monday seized Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and briefly detained him in the coup that came just over two years into a precarious power-sharing arrangement between the military and civilians after the army ousted longtime autocrat Omar Al-Bashir in April 2019.
The World Bank “paused disbursements in all of its operations in Sudan on Monday and it has stopped processing any new operations as we closely monitor and assess the situation,” Malpass said.
The United States also suspended aid to the country.
“We hope that peace and the integrity of the transition process will be restored, so that Sudan can restart its path of economic development and can take its rightful place in the international financial community,” Malpass said.
Sudan had been emerging from decades of stringent US sanctions after Washington removed the country from its state sponsor of terrorism blacklist in December 2020, eliminating a major hurdle to much-needed aid and financial investment.
The World Bank and IMF in June granted Sudan debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative, cutting the nation’s debt in half to about $28 billion, and the institutions have offered additional help if economic reforms continue.


UAE coronavirus cases below 100 for seventh day

UAE coronavirus cases below 100 for seventh day
Updated 27 October 2021

UAE coronavirus cases below 100 for seventh day

UAE coronavirus cases below 100 for seventh day
  • The Ministry of Health said the country conducted 295,380 tests in the past 24 hours
  • The country’s total caseload of recorded infections since the pandemic started now stands at 739,566

DUBAI: Daily coronavirus cases in the UAE were below 100 for the seventh straight day, with 95 new COVID-19 infections reported by health authorities.
The Ministry of Health said the country conducted 295,380 tests in the past 24 hours, state news agency WAM reported. It further reported one death and 136 recoveries.
The country’s total caseload of recorded infections since the pandemic started now stands at 739,566, with 2,135 deaths and 733,640 recoveries.
Coronavirus cases in the UAE have been falling in recent weeks with a total number of COVID-19 vaccination doses reaching 20,999,143.


Turkish motion opens door to new Syria operation

Turkish motion opens door to new Syria operation
Updated 27 October 2021

Turkish motion opens door to new Syria operation

Turkish motion opens door to new Syria operation
  • The motion justified a cross-border operation if Turkey’s national security is put under threat
  • Turkey has warned of growing threats from the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units, east of the Euphrates River, northern Syria

ANKARA: Turkish Parliament has ratified a motion to extend troop deployment for anti-terror operations in Iraq and Syria for another two years, raising questions over whether another cross-border operation looms on the horizon.

The move coincided with the Turkish military’s deployment of massive convoys and reinforcements to the border with Syria.

Barring the main opposition Republican Peoples’ Party and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, the governing Justice and Development Party, Nationalist Movement Party and the opposition Good Party backed the motion that emphasized the risks and rising threats posed by ongoing conflicts along the Turkey-Syria border.

The motion also stressed that Turkey places “great importance on the protection of Iraq’s territorial integrity, national unity and stability,” although “the continued existence of outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party and Daesh in Iraq ... poses a direct threat to regional peace, stability and the security of Turkey.”

Turkey regularly targets PKK hideouts in the Qandil stronghold of northern Iraq, but the country’s government has condemned the operations, describing them as a “violation of Iraqi sovereignty.”

Regarding the situation in the rebel-held province of Idlib, the motion noted that “the peace and stability established via the Astana process continues to be under threat."

The motion justified a cross-border operation if Turkey’s national security is put under threat.

Since 2016, Turkey has launched three cross-border operations into northern Syria — Euphrates Shield in 2016, Olive Branch in 2018 and Peace Spring in 2019. Two were directed against Kurdish forces. The safe zone that covers Tel Abyad, Jarablus and Afrin is currently under Turkish control.

Recently, Turkey has warned of growing threats from the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units in the east of Euphrates River in northern Syria, with artillery attacks targeting Turkish border towns and killing police officers. Turkish officials have begun voicing warnings about possible military action in the region.

Based on a senior source within the Syrian National Army, Arab News learned that the Turkish side advised forces to ready troops for a potential operation, but did not give details about the timing or target of the strategy.

Navvar Saban, a conflict analyst and expert at Omran Center for Strategic Studies, and a non-resident researcher at ORSAM in Ankara, said that Turkey is trying to put pressure on the Russian side by making preparations for a potential cross-border operation.

However, Saban added that Ankara will likely “wait until the regional circumstances become ripe” before engaging in military action.

“I don’t expect any immediate military operation. The Turkish side will only increase their artillery fire on the Syrian Democratic Forces positions in the north and will use the military operation as a bargaining chip against Moscow in this area,” he told Arab News.

“Turkey also ordered several army commanders to send more troops to Ras Al-Ain in northern Syria. I think that Turkey will take advantage of its proxy forces on the ground and gain more time in different active battlefronts before pushing the Russians to the negotiation table on terms that are acceptable for all,” Saban said.

Russia has not yet taken a clear position on a potential Turkish offensive, and as a security guarantor, is opting for a wait-and-watch policy to see how far Ankara is testing its boundaries in Syria within the limits of the bilateral commitments under the Astana process.

Separately, the US Senate confirmed on Monday Jeff Flake as the next US ambassador to Turkey. Ankara has long objected to the US support for the YPG, the main local partner of the US in its fight against Daesh.

Levent Kemal, a Middle East political commentator, said that Russia remains wary of giving a green light to Turkey for the launch of its next offensive in Tal Rifaat and Tal Temr.

Tal Rifaat, located in northwestern Syria, has been under the control of the YPG since 2016, and it is mostly populated by Kurds who fled Afrin following the Turkish operation in 2018. Ankara blamed the YPG for using Tal Rifaat as a “launchpad” to stage attacks.

“The US and Turkish presidents are set to meet this week. It is unlikely that Turkey launches an operation before the much-awaited meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his US counterpart, Joe Biden. It would be too risky to anger both Russia and the US on the same battleground,” Kemal told Arab News.

There are reportedly negotiations between Turkish and Russian authorities over an exchange of control in Tal Rifaat and Idlib, where Ankara-backed rebels have been losing ground for several months.

If Turkey and Russia agree on the swap, it could also bring Erdogan strong support from nationalist constituencies in Turkey through the seizure of new strategic territory from Kurdish forces. However, experts said that Turkey would not totally abandon its commitments in Idlib just for control of Tal Rifaat, and would ask for more territories in return.