Lebanese Health Minister in Hospital after Contracting Coronavirus
Caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan was admitted Wednesday to hospital after he tested positive for coronavirus, the St. Georges Hadath Hospital said.
In a statement, the hospital described the minister’s situation as “good.”
The development comes on the eve of an 11-day strict lockdown that Lebanon will implement in a bid to curb a dangerous spike in coronavirus cases.
The Health Ministry reported 4,988 new coronavirus cases and 35 deaths on Wednesday.
The fresh cases raise the country’s overall tally to 231,936, including 145,873 recoveries, as the fatalities take the death toll to 1,740.
Critics have said uncoordinated and hesitant policies wavering between relaxing restrictions and shutting down were behind the failure to contain the virus.
For instance, despite a rise in infections, the government relaxed restrictions ahead of Christmas and New Year's celebrations, hoping to boost a crumbling local economy as thousands of Lebanese expats arrived in the country. Bars and nightclubs, which had been ordered shut for months, were allowed to open.
Daily infection rates have since hovered above 3,000, hitting an all-time high of over 5,000 last week. Doctors and experts say the extent of the spread has yet to be felt, predicting numbers will skyrocket in the coming days, overwhelming health facilities in the country of nearly 6 million.