Coronavirus Suspect Returned to Hospital after 'Escaping' to Airport


A man suspected of being infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus was apprehended at Beirut’s airport and returned to the Rafik Hariri University Hospital after he refused to remain in hospital pending the results of the virus test.

Media reports had said that a “coronavirus patient” had escaped from the hospital overnight and headed to the airport where he was “arrested.”

But the director of the airport’s health office, Dr. Hasan Mallah, told An-Nahar newspaper that the man is not a patient but rather a suspected case.

“We were notified of his issue and we circulated his name to General Security, which apprehended him before he was transferred to the Rafik Hariri University Hospital via the Red Cross,” Mallah added.

“His fate will be determined based on the result of the coronavirus test. If it comes out negative, he will be allowed to travel to the country he was heading to, Canada, and if it comes out positive he will have to stay in hospital pending his recovery, as is the case of the other patients,” the official said.

Fearing that he would be isolated for 14 days, the man had left hospital, packed his suitcases and headed at dawn to the airport, LBCI TV said.

An official at the Rafik Hariri University Hospital refused to label what happened as an “escape.”

“The person headed to the emergency room showing the symptoms but his infection was not confirmed,” the RHUH official told LBCI.

“He refused to stay in quarantine but this does not mean that he escaped from the hospital,” he added.

“After he was arrested at the airport, the Red Cross transferred him to the hospital where the coronavirus test was conducted for him and he is still in hospital pending the result,” the official said.

Lebanon has so far confirmed 41 coronavirus cases and an emergency ward has been opened at the state-run Rafik Hariri hospital in Beirut to receive suspected cases and quarantine confirmed ones.

The country has closed educational institutions, sports clubs, nightclubs, pubs, fairs and other venues and urged against all gatherings as a precaution against the virus.

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