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A nurse wearing protective gear is pictured at an intensive care unit preserved for patients suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Rafik Hariri University Hospita Image Credit: Reuters

Duabi: There has been a spike in COVID-19 infections in the past few weeks in Lebanon, with over a thousand positive cases recorded daily, while Lebanon’s caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan warned on Wednesday that only a few ICU beds are still unoccupied. Hospitals will soon run out of space to treat severely ill coronavirus patients.

The Beirut port explosion which took place on the August 4, added to the health system’s struggles, badly damaging several hospitals in Beirut, which were already struggling from an economic crisis that has left most of the medical system with a credit crunch. And due to the weak medical system only half of the 30 government hospitals receive coronavirus patients as they cannot provide any medical assistance to them.

In one of many attempts to contain and reduce the spread of the virus, Lebanon recently imposed a week-long lockdown for 111 towns across the country. There is also a nightly curfew from 1am until 6am across the country.

New Plan

Lebanese caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan announced a new three-stage plan on Wednesday to combat the rapid spread of COVID-19 which has killed 424 people and infected nearly 47,000 in the cash-strapped country. Hassan said that over the next 10 days, he would increase the number of beds available in seven public hospitals in Lebanon in regions where new COVID-19 cases are “increasingly dramatically,” the state-run National News Agency reported.

The ministry also promised to distribute respirators to public hospitals so they can open to the growing numbers of cases in the different parts of the country. According to the minister the new plan would be financed with the help of Lebanon’s central bank and the World Bank, which agreed on a “new mechanism to pay suppliers”.

On a TV talk show on Tuesday MP Assem Araji said that 9.4 per cent of the 13,368 PCR Covid-19 tests carried out on that day had come back positive. The country, he said, was headed to “a dangerous place”.