Lebanon reports its first coronavirus-related death

Lebanon reports its first coronavirus-related death
Lebanon recorded its first death from coronavirus on Tuesday, a health ministry source said, adding that the patient had been in quarantine since returning from Egypt.
2 min read
10 March, 2020
Lebanon's health minister said hospitals were ready to deal with further spread of coronavirus [AFP]
A Lebanese man died on Tuesday from the novel coronavirus, a health ministry source said, marking the country's first recorded death from an epidemic that has infected 41 people nationwide. 

The 56-year-old was receiving treatment in a state-run Beirut hospital, the ministry source told AFP, adding that he had recently returned from Egypt, where the virus has also spread.

Earlier this week, the government halted flights for non-residents from epicenters of the virus, shut schools and warned against public gatherings.

Lebanon's health minister said hospitals were ready to deal with any further spread of the novel coronavirus in the country.

Hamad Hassan said the cases had all either returned from an affected country or were transmitted through "close contact" with a family member or neighbour - not "local transmission".

All people suffering from the COVID-19 illness are being treated at Beirut's Rafic Hariri state hospital, where 140 beds have been designated to isolate and monitor suspected cases, he added.

Hassan said measures had also been taken beyond Beirut, naming eight cities across the country where hospital wards had been put aside as Lebanon works to contain the virus nationwide.

"We have designated 20 to 40 beds in each facility to follow any unexpected developments as part of a precautionary plan," he said.

They include a monitoring area for patients suspected of having caught the coronavirus along with one or two quarantine units, he said.

In what he described as a "positive sign", Hassan said the country's first case, a 45-year-old woman who had tested positive for the virus after visiting Qom in Iran, had now tested negative.

"A second laboratory test will be conducted tomorrow, and she will be discharged and sent home if the negative result is confirmed," his ministry said earlier in a statement.

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That showed that "there's no need for hysterical panic", Hassan said.

On Friday, Lebanon said it would deny entry to non-resident foreigners arriving from China, South Korea, Iran and Italy.

Schools, universities and other educational institutions have been closed until 8 March.

Globally, more than 100,000 people have been infected and more than 3,800 killed since the virus first emerged in China's Hubei province late last year.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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