As Lebanon began this week to loosen coronavirus measures, nearly one month after full lockdown, the number of daily COVID-19 cases started to increase again.
Citing data from the Lebanese Health Ministry, director of Rafik Hariri University Hospital (RHUH), Firass Abiad, said in a tweet that the test positivity rate was very high in the past week, amounting to 30%.
"Furthermore, it was trending upwards, revealing increasing community spread," he noted in his statement.
Abiad also warned that in the last two days, the coronavirus emergency department at RHUH was exceptionally busy.
“One particular observation was concerning. Younger patients are presenting more frequently to ER, many of them in critical condition. Could this reflect a more dominant UK strain?” he noted.
According to Abiad, the slow vaccination drive is not helping decrease the number of infections either.
“Easing the lockdown is likely to continue. As in many other things in Lebanon, it will be left to individuals to look after their own safety. Double mask, avoid unnecessary gatherings, and poor ventilation. This too shall pass,” he added in another tweet.
Meanwhile, Lebanon's Caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan announced that 192,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are expected to arrive in Lebanon between mid-March and April.
“The vaccination drive in Lebanon is going well despite all the smear campaigns,” he said.
Hassan admitted that some Lebanese politicians had imported the vaccine and used it to vaccinate themselves and those close to them.
“This is not the responsibility of the Health Ministry, but the security apparatuses and the customs, which allowed the entry of the vaccines,” the minister noted.
On Friday, 3,202 new coronavirus cases and 52 more deaths have been recorded in Lebanon, according to the Ministry of Health.