Prime Minister Najib Mikati chaired at the Grand Serail this evening the meeting of the ministerial committee charged with following up on the measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The meeting was attended by ministers Abbas Al-Halabi, Bassam Mawlawi, Firas Al-Abyad, Walid Nassar, Mustafa Bayram, and Ali Hamieh, as well as the Director-General of the Presidency of the Republic, Antoine Choucair, and the Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers, Judge Mahmoud Makieh.
In the wake of the meeting, Health Minister Firas Al-Abyad said: “We discussed the coronavirus situation in Lebanon and the measures that will be taken in the coming days to contain the pandemic and ensure that it does not spread any further.”
“The first topic was the current epidemiological situation. We all know that the number of cases is increasing in Lebanon; the cases count recorded yesterday was 1470, and the percentage of positive tests is still high. There is also a marked increase in the number of Covid-19 patients admitted to hospitals,” he explained.
“We also discussed the Omicron variant. Currently, there are 8 confirmed cases in Lebanon, and more than 16 suspected cases, some of whom came from Africa, in addition to cases from Britain, Spain, Turkey, the United States of America, and the UAE, which indicates the spread of this variant in several countries. It is only a matter of time before it reaches us with greater numbers.”
Al-Abyad went on to say that “this concern, along with the concern over hospitals capacity, is indeed worrying. In some governorates, hospitals have already reached their maximum capacity. (…) In view of the above, there is no doubt that the increase in numbers is something that Lebanon is currently unable to bear. Therefore, the decisions that we have taken include strict application of the measures previously announced by the coronavirus Committee, in the presence of the Ministers of Interior and Tourism.”
“The meeting has touched on the tourism sector, namely the casino and restaurants, with emphasis that some facilities do not comply with the required measures, and, should previously announced procedures continue to be violated, there will be no hesitation in shutting down the violating facilities,” the minister said.
Tackling the airport issue, Al-Abyad affirmed that measures will be applied in a strict manners, especially with regard to PCR tests.
“The issue of general mobilization due to the coronavirus pandemic was also a topic of discussions, and there has been a request to extend the state of general mobilization, especially with the increase in numbers.”
“What we are trying to say to the citizens is the following: There is great fear with the surge in numbers that hospitals will not be able to do what they are supposed to because they are exhausted and a large part of the medical and nursing staff has already left Lebanon, so we stress to everyone the importance of adhering to preventive measures,” The minister concluded.
In response to a question, Al-Abiad said: “We, as Ministry of Health, are asking for more strictness with measures, but unfortunately we notice a lack of commitment, both from sectors and individuals, and if we continue at this pace, we can end up in lockdown again. The higher the cases in hospitals, the closer we are to a lockdown.”