Lebanon reports 139 coronavirus cases, vaccine 'marathon' planned for weekend

The total number of coronavirus infections in Lebanon is 541,940

Joseph al-Hajj, an 80-year-old Lebanese musician, walks at Hotel Dieu hospital in Beirut, Lebanon April 13, 2021.

Joseph al-Hajj, an 80-year-old Lebanese musician, walks at Hotel Dieu hospital in Beirut, Lebanon April 13, 2021.

Reuters/Emma Freiha

BEIRUT: Lebanon recorded 139 coronavirus cases and six deaths in the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry said Wednesday, as Caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan announced plans for a vaccine "marathon" over the weekend.

The new cases brought the total number of coronavirus infections in Lebanon since the virus was first detected in the country in February 2020 to 541,940, along with a total of 7,780 deaths.

The cases were detected among 14,038 tests, out of which two were travelers arriving from abroad.

The Health Ministry’s report had less data than usual, with no numbers to reflect the admissions to hospital with the virus, or the average two-week positivity rate.

The Health Ministry report detailed that 7,918 first-stage vaccine jabs had been administered, bringing the total to 575,431, or 12.1 percent of the eligible population. Another 7,793 vaccinations were administered as second-stage jabs, bringing the total to 301,841, or 6.3 percent of the eligible population.

Hassan Wednesday inaugurated a mega vaccination center, the largest in Lebanon, at City Mall in Doura, Beirut, which will be managed by the Lebanese Red Cross.

Speaking to the media, Hassan said the center was a step forward in the country’s vaccine program and that the facility was “capable of accommodating between 1,000-5,000 people a day, which is a record number.”

The minister also announced a "marathon" vaccination plan on June 12-13 in which which residents aged 55 and above, as well as people with disabilities who are already registered for the vaccine, are invited to walk-in centers to receive the jab.

Hasan said the "marathon" over the weekend must reach “20,000 or even 25,000 people,” which would be a significant boost compared to last Sunday’s vaccine "marathon" in the North Lebanon Governorate, where 2,400 jabs were administered.

The ministry has not yet released a list of centers where the vaccine will be offered over the weekend, but the University of Balamand’s vaccine center in a statement announced its participation in the program. It will be open between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday for those registered, the statement said.

Hassan said the ministry in conjunction with the Vaccine Executive Committee is exploring the possibility of including those younger than 55 in vaccine marathons, and said that each week the age group would drop by five years depending on health data.

The ministry also announced Wednesday that the current nightly curfew in place between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. will be lifted, which follows weeks of restaurants and other nighttime venues operating legally until 12:30 a.m.

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