Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 28 October 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Covid-19 toll surges to record high in blast-hit Lebanon

Seven deaths and 309 new cases were recorded in a day

Rachelle Boumelhem reacts during an interview in her damaged beauty salon in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, August 10, 2020. AP
Rachelle Boumelhem reacts during an interview in her damaged beauty salon in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, August 10, 2020. AP

Lebanon recorded its highest daily surge of deaths and new infections from coronavirus on Tuesday, as it tried to recover from the catastrophic blast at Beirut's port a week ago.

Seven people died of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said, and 309 new cases were recorded over the same period.

The number of infections in Lebanon is now 7,121, with 87 deaths.

Daily figures are still low compared with some countries but they have risen in recent days, straining a health system that was overwhelmed by people wounded in the August 4 explosion.

More than 100 infections have been recorded every day since July 21, weighing on Lebanon’s healthcare system.

The city’s main Covid-19 hospital was reportedly close to capacity.

Health officials said the chaos caused by the blast that killed 171 people and injured 6,000 could lead to a surge of infections, with no room for physical distancing in crowded hospitals.

Up to 300,000 people were made temporarily homeless by the explosion that ravaged half of Beirut, the city’s governor estimated.

At least 15 medical centres, including three major hospitals, sustained structural damage in the blast, the UN said.

The collective trauma that Lebanon's worst peacetime disaster inflicted on the country led people to sidestep social distancing habits.

With the start of the school year just around the corner and the flu season soon after, the head of the main public coronavirus hospital said the next few days would be critical.

"The events of the previous week have, understandably, shifted attention away from the pandemic," Firass Abiad said on social media.

"We cannot afford to allow the virus to go unchecked."

Updated: August 12, 2020 09:05 AM

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