BEIRUT (Dispatches) – A drastic rise in COVID-19 infections has pushed Lebanon’s hospitals to the edge, and experts warn they will soon be unable to cope as the country buckles under a succession of devastating crises.
Lebanon’s healthcare system was already struggling before several hospitals were badly damaged by a massive explosion at the port of Beirut in early August.
Now medical supplies are dwindling thanks to a shortage of dollars due to an ongoing financial crisis, doctors are emigrating in droves, and fears are growing that subsidies on medicines might soon be lifted.
"At the moment, COVID-19 in Lebanon is not under control,” said Firass Abiad, who runs Beirut’s Rafik Hariri University hospital, the largest coronavirus facility in the country. "We are seeing a high positivity rate relative to testing.”
Lebanon registered a record 1,321 new daily infections over the weekend, bringing its cumulative total to more than 43,000 cases while the death toll stands at 398.
The virus continues to spread in Lebanon’s overcrowded prisons, public hospitals and densely packed cities, where mask-wearing remains lax.
The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) also said the majority of Palestinian families – 63 percent – will not be able to cover their expenses for up to a month, if a new lockdown is re-imposed to combat the coronavirus.
PCBS published the results of a survey it had conducted on a sample of 9,926 households in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip which assessed the pandemic’s impact on the social and economic conditions in Palestine.
According to the results, 42 percent of families (46 percent in the West Bank and 38 percent in the Gaza Strip) had their income reduced by at least half during lockdown, compared to February.
According to the survey, 63 percent of Palestinian families (52 percent in the West Bank and 79 percent in Gaza) resorted to borrowing money or buying on debt to cover their living requirements such as food, during the lockdown period, up from 58 percent under normal circumstances.
In August, the Palestinian Authority paid only 50 percent of the salaries of its public sector employees for the fourth consecutive month after the Zionist regime announced plans to annex large swathes of the occupied West Bank and Jordan Valley and the Authority decided to sever ties, including financial, with the regime.
The Zionist regime’s siege on the Gaza Strip has also crippled the already feeble economy of the Palestinian enclave and has put extra pressure on healthcare during the pandemic.