Lebanon sees rise in COVID-19 deaths, new cases

The total number of cases since the virus was first detected in the country on Feb. 21, 2020, rose to 362,833

  
People wait to get tested for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Rafik Hariri University Hospital, in Beirut, Lebanon January 4, 2021.

People wait to get tested for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Rafik Hariri University Hospital, in Beirut, Lebanon January 4, 2021.

REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

BEIRUT: Lebanon Wednesday registered 62 new coronavirus-related deaths and 3,513 more cases, as the caretaker health minister scrambled to contain the fallout of a breach of the national vaccination plan’s rules.

The cases were detected among 19,133 tests, with only 14 cases recorded among travelers arriving from abroad. The positivity rate of the tests in the last two weeks stood at 17.7 percent.

The total number of cases since the virus was first detected in the country on Feb. 21, 2020, rose to 362,833 according to the Health Ministry. The total number of fatalities stands at 4,508.

The Health Ministry said 2,161 patients were in hospital for COVID-19, with 911 in ICUs and 283 on ventilators.

News of 16 MPs receiving the vaccination shook the country Tuesday and prompted the head of the national COVID-19 vaccination committee Dr. Abdel Rahman al-Bizri to vehemently condemn the affair, calling it a “huge mistake” that “cannot be repeated.”

George Kettaneh, the general secretary of the Lebanese Red Cross, confirmed to local media Wednesday that his organization was summoned to Parliament in order to inoculate MPs over the age of 75 but that it has no role in the organizational or logistical process of the national vaccination campaign.

A number of paramedics and Red Cross volunteers, however, took to Twitter and other social media platforms to criticize and point to the hypocrisy of inoculating MPs prior to the completion of the inoculation of all front-line healthcare workers.

Caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hasan, under fire for the scandal, stressed the importance of following and remaining committed to vaccination strategy, saying: “The centers must adhere to this plan and the dates specified through the registration platform, so that violations are not repeated.”

He also announced his decision to postpone the accreditation of both the Batroun and Baalbeck government hospitals as vaccination centers, due to their violation of the plan’s controls.

Hasan’s resolution came during a meeting with officials of approved vaccination centers nationwide that aimed to assess the execution of the plan thus far.

“The data is accurately documented and the platform’s automated system cannot be shared. The initial action that it will take against the violating centers will be to suspend the submission of bills for COVID patients to the World Bank loan fund,” he continued.

Hamad concluded the meeting by cautioning that “people who were infected with COVID should not be vaccinated before three to six months have passed since recovery,” citing that “complications have occurred in such cases.”

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