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Dispute Between Lebanon’s Health, Interior Ministries over Virus Cases

Dispute Between Lebanon’s Health, Interior Ministries over Virus Cases

Monday, 21 September, 2020 - 06:30
A medic checks the temperature of a woman at the Wavel camp for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon's eastern Bekaa Valley, on April 22, 2020, after the UN announced the first confirmed case of coronavirus there. AFP

Lebanon registered a record COVID-19 cases on Sunday with the authorities reiterating their call to wear masks, maintain social distancing, avoid crowds, and take other necessary preventive measures to limit the spread of the disease.

Local media outlets quoted Health Minister Hamad Hassan as recommending a total lockdown for two weeks to contain the pandemic, but Interior Minister Mohammad Fahmy said despite the need for stricter steps, such a decision is up to the Committee for Follow-up on Preventive Measures and Procedures against the novel coronavirus.

In a statement issued by his office, Fahmy said “the Lebanese society is not a game at hand, to be subjected to one week of lockdown and another of reopening.”

The statement also responded to a memo issued by the Health Ministry, in which it held the security forces and municipalities responsible for the failure to ensure a full lockdown last month to fight the pandemic.

“Security forces, governors, municipalities and mayors, are all carrying out their duties to curb the pandemic through the information made available to them, with often lists being incomplete or released at the wrong time,” the Interior Ministry said, indirectly blaming the Health Ministry.

It hoped that the Health Ministry would carry out its duties and adhere to them and the recommendations of the Interior Ministry to avoid making false accusations.

On Sunday, Lebanon registered 1,006 new coronavirus infections, raising the tally since the first case was reported on February 21 to 29,303. There were also 11 deaths in the past 24 hours.

Several public institutions would close on Monday after registering COVID-19 cases among employees, including the South Lebanon Water Establishment in the city of Sidon.

Meanwhile, the Municipality of Tripoli's crisis cell announced in a statement that 82 new patients have been tested positive for COVID-19, taking the count to 2,290 in the region.

In Koura, the crisis cell registered 14 cases, prompting the municipality to take a series of measures, including a ban on weddings and funerals, and imposing a curfew starting 8pm.

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