Lebanese MPs discuss fresh measures to fight COVID-19

Special Lebanese MPs discuss fresh measures to fight COVID-19
This picture taken on March 21, 2020 shows an aerial view of the Place de l'Etoile (Sahet al-Nejme) where the Lebanese parliament is located, with the government palace seen behind, in the centre of Lebanon's capital Beirut. (AFP)
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Updated 22 December 2020

Lebanese MPs discuss fresh measures to fight COVID-19

Lebanese MPs discuss fresh measures to fight COVID-19
  • The preventive measures were applied during the legislative session of parliament on Monday at the UNESCO palace instead of the parliament headquarters

BEIRUT: The Lebanese Ministry of Health’s scientific committee has recommended that flights from London to Beirut be suspended for a few days pending more information on the new strain of COVID-19 found in Britain.
The committee recommended that expatriates heading to Lebanon for the holidays change their route if they were traveling through London and commit to mandatory home quarantine for five days, after which they must take a PCR test.
The preventive measures were applied during the legislative session of parliament on Monday at the UNESCO palace instead of the parliament headquarters.
This is because the palace’s hall is more spacious, allowing for the application of social-distancing measures. In addition, members of parliament and the attendees wore face coverings throughout.
Parliament also passed a law to ratify the proposal to lift banking secrecy for anyone involved in public affairs.
Parliament, according to Speaker Nabih Berri, issued a decision that all state bodies, including the Banque du Liban, the ministries, departments and public institutions, are subject to a financial or forensic audit in response to a letter from President Michel Aoun to parliament.
Parliament recommended this decision in a previous session. Berri said: “Parliament cannot respond to Aoun’s message with a law.”
Parliament referred the bill — aimed at recovering cash and financial portfolios transferred abroad — to the joint committees, provided it was completed within 15 days. The move led to a loss of the impetus on which parliament is counting to recover stolen money transferred abroad.
Caretaker Minister of the Displaced Ghada Shreim said: “We had hoped to pass the bill to retrieve the money transferred abroad after Oct. 17 instead of referring it to the committees. Recovering these funds is the first step on a long road.”
Parliament also passed a law for the first time punishing sexual harassment, especially in the workplace, and another amending the law to protect women and other family members from domestic violence.
Claudine Aoun, president of the National Commission for Lebanese Women, described the move as a positive step to protect women from sexual harassment and domestic violence.
Caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan, meanwhile, stressed the need to comply with coronavirus preventive measures during the holidays, warning that the repercussions of failing to do so could be tragic.
The scientific committee noted during its meeting on Monday “the absence of public mobilization in the country and the decline in the rate of wearing face-coverings,” according to Hassan.
As of Monday morning, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Lebanon reached 158,104, at a rate of more than 1,500 cases a day. Sometimes more than 2,000 cases were recorded a day. The death toll has reached 1,281, at a rate of 10 deaths a day.
In Lebanon’s medical sector, 1,904 COVID-19 cases have been recorded to date since the first infection was detected last February.
Meanwhile, eight of those detained in the Lebanese Army’s Military Police Prison in Rihaniya over the Beirut port explosion have contracted COVID-19 from a security guard.