Hizbullah on Tuesday unveiled its plan to confront the novel coronavirus pandemic in Lebanon, titled “Societal Resistance for a Country Free of the Coronavirus Pandemic”.
Under the plan, the party will deploy 1,500 doctors, 3,000 nurses and medics, 5,000 health workers and 15,000 field services cadres and will cooperate with municipalities and municipal crews, it said in a statement.
Noting that it will seek to “work loyally in service of the people away from any political motives,” Hizbullah said its crews will “support the Health Ministry and the government’s measures and will abide by the regulations and instructions of the Health Ministry and the World Health Organization.”
“Hizbullah’s assets, capabilities, expertise and health cadres will be utilized to their maximum level in all regions and the priority in the general efforts of Hizbullah and the Islamic resistance will be given to confronting the pandemic,” it said in a statement.
The party added that it will also benefit from volunteers and will urge people to volunteer, noting that it will stand by citizens socially and regarding their livelihood to enable them to face the economic repercussions of the crisis.
“Five practical plans have been devised to deal with this situation,” Hizbullah added, revealing that it will seek to “support government hospitals at all levels, especially in terms of providing volunteering doctors and nurses.”
“Sections specialized in coronavirus will be equipped at some of our hospitals,” the party said, noting that “the Saint George Hospital will soon be exclusively dedicated to receiving coronavirus cases while its patients will be transferred to the Great Prophet Hospital.”
As for quarantine and isolation measures, Hizbullah said “public spaces will be provided and hospitals will be rented and equipped to be used for quarantine and isolation should the situation deteriorate.” It said resorts, scout cities and hotels would be used for such purposes.
Britian’s the Guardian newspaper has reported that health and other officials focused on Lebanon, Iraq and Syria fear the numbers of people infected with coronavirus far exceed the official figures disclosed by all three governments.
“Officials, including bureaucrats, aid workers and international observers, who spoke with the Guardian over the past week say parts of Lebanon and Iraq in particular are likely to be holding thousands more infected people, and that a lack of disclosure poses a serious health risk over the next three months,” the newspaper added.
“They also claim coronavirus patients are being housed and guarded by political groups in central and southern Iraq and southern Lebanon,” it said.
Returnees to Lebanon had arrived from all over the world, with a priest traveling from Italy thought to be responsible for one cluster, and travelers from Milan and London for others. However, “the focus of concern has been on arrivals from the Iranian city of Qom, to where the biggest regional outbreak has been sourced,” the Guardian added.
“Large numbers of Iraqi and Lebanese people, including religious pilgrims and merchants, had been in Qom as the crisis escalated and were gradually brought back by bus and plane to Baghdad and Beirut, where only small numbers of patients from their communities are being treated in public hospitals,” it said.
Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has said party members returning from abroad – mainly Iran, Iraq and Syria -- have been placed in quarantine and has vowed to be transparent about infections.
However, so far there have been no announcements from the group about the numbers of suspected or confirmed cases among its ranks, and concerns are mounting that Lebanon’s relatively low official number of cases – 463 as of noon Tuesday – is actually much higher.
“We are not saying this to make a problem for a certain political party, or area of the country,” said one Lebanese official who, like all others spoken with by the Guardian, refused to be named. “But we know there is a much bigger problem in Lebanon than has been acknowledged,” the official added.
A second Lebanese official claimed that over recent weeks Hizbullah had quarantined areas in many towns in the south of the country and provided food and water to suspected patients. The neighborhoods were guarded by party members, the official claimed.
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