Five members of Lebanese family dead from COVID-19

Five members of Lebanese family dead from COVID-19
Bakhaoun, Lebanon, has been shocked by the news that five members of the same family from the town have died from COVID-19 in the last six weeks. (File/AFP)
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Updated 20 November 2020

Five members of Lebanese family dead from COVID-19

Five members of Lebanese family dead from COVID-19
  • According to the Lebanese Ministry of Health, the highest number of deaths has occurred in the over-80 age group
  • There have been thousands of curfew violations in the country — with a total of 19,245 fines issued up to Friday

BEIRUT: Bakhaoun, Lebanon, has been shocked by the news that five members of the same family from the town have died from COVID-19 in the last six weeks.
Abed Al-Jaleel Al-Samad, his wife Aisha and their youngest son Fady, 52, who worked for the Lebanese State Security, died from the virus in mid-October, while Fady’s older brother Bassam died on Oct. 27, and their brother Shadi died in hospital on Friday. Their sister has been undergoing treatment in a Tripoli hospital for the last month.
Bakhaoun is one of the most populous towns in Lebanon’s Dannieh district, with 15,000 people in an area of eight square kilometers. Despite strict lockdown measures, there have been 50 cases of COVID-19 in the town, including 25 cases in the Al-Samad family alone.
Lebanon will enter its second week of a nationwide lockdown on Saturday. The measures are set to continue until the end of November in an attempt to lower the number of active cases, and reduce the strain on hospitals, which had reached capacity.
However, there have been thousands of curfew violations in the country — with a total of 19,245 fines issued up to Friday morning — and Thursday saw a record number of new confirmed cases of COVID-19 —  1,900, bringing the country’s total number of cases since the start of the pandemic to 111,905, with 868 deaths.
According to the Lebanese Ministry of Health, the highest number of deaths has occurred in the over-80 age group (252 deaths). Fifty-five people aged between 40 and 49 have died, 17 between 30 and 39, and eight between 20 and 29.
The caretaker government’s Minister of Health Hamad Hassan said “The ministry’s available operational data and statistics do not indicate tangible improvement in reducing the number of cases” and called on the Lebanese people to be patient and commit to following protective measures.
He also said the Ministry of Health had finalized an agreement with private hospitals to receive COVID-19 patients which will see those hospitals reimbursed for treatment given.
The President of the Syndicate of Private Hospitals, Suleiman Haroun, confirmed in a statement that private hospitals will gradually start receiving patients “after the compromise reached with the Health Ministry which covers their expenses, since treating coronavirus patients is very costly compared to other patients.”
Lebanon’s fight against the coronavirus coincides with a severe economic crisis, the alleviation of which depends on implementing reforms requested by the international community and the resumption of talks with the International Monetary Fund.
On Friday, caretaker Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni was informed by Alvarez & Marsal that the consultancy has decided to void the contract it signed with the Finance Ministry for a forensic audit of Lebanon’s Central Bank.
The consultancy agreed a week ago to extend the contract for three months, to give the bank time to provide the necessary information. But the bank has claimed that it cannot do so because of “bank secrecy laws.”
Alvarez & Marsal said its decision was taken because it is not certain it will be allowed access to the necessary information “even if (the bank is) given three additional months to deliver the documents required.”


Egypt seeks to free citizens kidnapped by pirates off Nigerian coast

Updated 28 min 35 sec ago

Egypt seeks to free citizens kidnapped by pirates off Nigerian coast

Egypt seeks to free citizens kidnapped by pirates off Nigerian coast
  • Maria Samir, Samir’s sister, said her brother was last contacted as he was about to move from Nigeria to Cameroon

CAIRO: Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said it was coordinating with Nigerian authorities to free two of its citizens after they were kidnapped by pirates.

According to media reports, Saad Shawky and Kyrolos Samir were taken while they were on board a cargo ship off the coast of Nigeria’s southernmost state of Bayelsa.

There are also three Lebanese, four Indians and a Cameroonian in the crew.

The ministry said it had contacted the Egyptian consulate in Abuja about the circumstances and with the latest updates, and that instructions had been issued “to communicate with all officials at the highest level to follow up on ensuring the safety of kidnapped Egyptians.”

Egyptian media reported the two men were on board a Lebanese cargo ship called “Milan-1” that was heading from Nigeria to Cameroon. They also said the ship was owned by a Lebanese national, Adnan El-Kot.

El-Kot said in statements that he had rented the ship to a man called Tavo Lawrence and that the vessel was raising the flag of Saint Kitts. He learned about the kidnapping last Thursday, receiving a call from a Thuraya mobile phone from the pirates who demanded a $1.5 million ransom to release the ship.

The ransom dropped to $300,000, and El-Kot explained that he had told the kidnappers that the ship had been rented to another person living in Nigeria after he made sure all the ship crew were safe.

Maria Samir, Samir’s sister, said her brother was last contacted as he was about to move from Nigeria to Cameroon.

She said in an interview that contact with him was lost a few hours after he moved from Nigeria, adding that it naturally happened due to being in the open seas. She was following up the ship’s route through an app that revealed the vessel had stopped in the middle of the sea and did not move.

She said her brother graduated from university a year ago and that it was his first job for six months. She added he was working on a ship on the Red Sea route and moved to work on board “Milan-1.”

Sherouk Shawky, who is Shawky’s sister, said: “My brother and his colleague Kyrolos Samir have been working together onboard the ship for two years and a half.”

She said her brother left Nigeria en route to Cameroon and they had last contacted each other last Wednesday.

She added: “By Saturday, as he didn't contact us, we became extremely worried about him since the route from Nigeria to Cameroon is only two days. So we contacted Adnan El-Kot, the ship owner, who told us that pirates from Nigeria kidnapped the ship's 10-member crew, which includes officers, engineers and cooks. He said the pirates kidnapped 10 crew members and left one to inform Adnan of the kidnapping.”