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"It is too early to declare victory" in Lebanon

by Ace Damon
"It is too early to declare victory" in Lebanon

The worst will be over in Lebanon, but it would be premature to declare victory against the new coronavirus, the Lebanese health minister told France-Presse agency today, when the country starts a new phase at the end of the confinement.

"I think the worst (…) is behind us, but we must remain vigilant and take action in all regions," said Hamad Hassan.

According to official figures, Lebanon has recorded 1,233 cases of covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, including 27 deaths, in six million inhabitants.

The death toll is about 10 times lower than that of countries with comparable populations, such as Israel, Norway or the United Arab Emirates.

After introducing the confinement in mid-March, the government announced a further easing of restrictions on Sunday, postponing the start of the night curfew from 7 pm to midnight.

"It is too early to declare victory, but we scored points against this virus," said Hassan from his home in Baalbek, in the east of the country.

Most of the new cases are of returnees from the vast Lebanese diaspora, according to data from the Ministry of Health.

Lebanon is now planning "medical trips to help certain countries if necessary," said Hassan.

Lebanese ‘media’ have widely praised the government, including Hassan, for its management of the health crisis in a country where the health sector already had major problems before the pandemic and state degradation is the norm.

The confinement has aggravated an already disastrous situation in Lebanon, a country heavily indebted and experiencing its worst economic crisis in three decades.

The Lebanese government, which announced in March the first default in its history, is negotiating an aid of around 11 billion dollars (9.88 billion euros) with the International Monetary Fund.

According to a balance sheet by the agency France-Presse, more than 372,000 people died and more than 6.1 million were infected worldwide with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, discovered in late December in Wuhan (China) and which causes covid-19 disease.

More than 2.5 million patients were considered cured.

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