In South Lebanon, residents say Covid-19 poses 'existential threat'

Local committee accuses locals of not respecting social distancing rules and not wearing masks

A doctor, wearing protective gear, handles a test for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Rafik Hariri University Hospital, in Beirut, Lebanon October 1, 2020. Picture taken October 1, 2020. REUTERS/Issam Abdallah
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A coronavirus committee in the town of Hasbaya in South Lebanon has raised the alarm, saying the spread in the area is out of control.

Covid-19 has killed 433 and contaminated 48,377 people in Lebanon. Nine died in the past 24 hours, according the Health Ministry’s statement on Wednesday.

“In most cases the source is unknown," Hasbaya's committee said.

"Hospitals equipped to deal with cases of coronavirus are overcrowded and working at maximum capacity.

"Laboratories are working with great difficulty to respond to PCR test requests.

"Contaminations among medical staff has reached 100 cases. This signals that the situation is slipping out of control."

The committee appealed to the Lebanese Health Ministry and the World Health Organisation for medical equipment for Hasbaya’s public hospital to face the pandemic, which poses a “great and existential threat to our society.”

The committee accused some locals of not respecting social-distancing rules and not wearing masks.

Lebanon's case numbers are low by global standards, but intensive-care units have reached a critical 82 per cent of capacity, the WHO said.

Meanwhile, the virus continues to spread in Lebanon's overcrowded prisons, public hospitals and densely packed cities, where wearing masks is lax.

"If we continue with this exponential growth I don't think we'll last more than a couple of weeks," said Dr Eveline Hitti, chair of the emergency department at the American University in Beirut's Medical Centre.

Lebanon was praised for containing the spread early in the pandemic, averaging fewer than 100 daily cases until August.

But as the country's woes began to multiply, and victims of the port blast in August crowded into hospitals, the coronavirus took a back seat.