As if Lebanon did not have enough to contend with its economic, financial and political crises, the new coronavirus emerged to add health crisis to the country’s daily woes.
The new crisis is expected to negatively impact several sectors, not limited to health, tourism and travel, and which will naturally quicken the collapse of the already flailing economy.
Authorities have adopted several measures to contain the spread of the virus. It has prepared the Rafik Hariri University Hospital to receive coronavirus patients and suspected cases, even though hospitals were already suffering from a shortage of medical supplies sparked by the ongoing monthslong economic crisis and shortage in dollars.
The Education Ministry has also ordered the suspension of school classes until March 14 as a precaution against the virus. The Transportation Ministry halted flights to affected regions in China, Iran and other countries. Popular markets in Beirut and throughout the country have also been ordered to close, which will impact the economy.
Association of Private Hospitals President Suleiman Haroun told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The decision has been made and authorities are aware of the need to secure funds for the Health Ministry so that it can take the necessary measures at this time, even if this will incur additional costs on the state.”
Government hospitals in the North, South and eastern Bekaa will be dedicated to exclusively receive coronavirus patients in order to prevent its spread to other facilities, he revealed.
An agreement was reached between the Health Ministry and private hospitals to receive confirmed cases in emergency rooms before transferring them to government hospitals, he added.
On Saturday, Tourism Minister Ramzi al-Musharafieh ordered the closure of nightclubs for a week to prevent the spread of the virus. Tourism police have been tasked to ensure that establishments comply with the decision.
The move will inevitably impact the economy, but head of the Syndicate of Owners of Restaurants, Cafes, Nightclubs and Pastries Tony Ramy told Asharq Al-Awsat that establishments will respect the move for the safety of the people.