COVID-19: where is Lebanon standing?

Source: Annahar
Christy-Belle Geha
A nurse checks a dialysis patient at a governmental hospital, in Tripoli, Lebanon, Thursday, July 16, 2020. (AP Photo)
A nurse checks a dialysis patient at a governmental hospital, in Tripoli, Lebanon, Thursday, July 16, 2020. (AP Photo)
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BEIRUT: While the World Health Organization (WHO) applauded Lebanon’s success in containing the COVID-19 pandemic in its early period, current numbers are increasingly alluding to an out-of-control spin in the coming weeks, if the exponential rise isn’t controlled.
In the interim, the unprecedented financial hardships are leaving the Lebanese almost incapable of succumbing to a nationwide lockdown that could, naturally, lessen the spread of the virus, on one hand, and question the accuracy of official COVID-19 registered cases numbers, on the other hand.

 “First, a large number of the COVID-19 infected cases are asymptomatic, so the official registered numbers in laboratories are certainly missing a lot of people since many of them might be carrying the virus without knowing it,” said Jacques Mokhbat, MD, chair of the internal medicine department at the LAU Medical Center-Rizk Hospital (LAUMCRH).

 “Second, many people aren’t getting tested, and this is due to the unavailability of human resources or insufficient testing, and this nulls all popular rumors that say that numbers are tricky.”

 Mokhbat reminded that, as hospitals’ capacities are overloaded, human resources are decreasing, amid a shortage of finances, cuts in necessary expenditure, and the lack of proper testing and treatment.

 “The pandemic has also its correlate side effects,” added Mokhbat. “As hospitals are accepting more COVID-19 cases in their premises, the pandemic is causing the neglect of other diseases.”

 In fact, the route leading to the end of the tunnel seems gloomy for some, as ongoing studies about the virus still haven’t reached a term, especially that knowing where a country stands in the epidemic contributes to the development of an appropriate public health policy.

 Mokhbat also told Annahar that COVID-19 patients are extremely panicking, given that he has been meeting with some of them since he’s an infectious diseases specialist.

 He described the current health situation as a “panic epidemic” even if there are more forms of severe illnesses to panic about, according to him.

 “A high majority of patients are surviving,” reassured Mokhbat.

 According to the Mortality Analyses of the Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center, the COVID-19 case-fatality percentage is currently 1.0 percent in Lebanon, a number judged good by Mokhbat, if compared to other severely affected countries by COVID-19.

 “This means we’re still doing quite well compared to other countries, up till now,” he clarified.

 He finally emphasized the importance of wearing face masks, being aware of social distancing, washing hands, and not attending crowded places, including gathering spaces.

 “You either abide by these simple stupid rules, or we all pay the price.”

If you’re in Lebanon, call +961-01-594459 if any of the symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, shortness of breath) appear or if you were around a COVID-19 positive patient, and/or take the PCR test.

Read about the virus. Stay safe!

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