Hospitals overwhelmed in Lebanon as COVID-19 cases rise dramatically

In Beirut, Lebanon, doctors expect a further rise in the number of COVID-19 patients next week as hospitals in Lebanon exceed their capacity, Arab News reports.

On January 17, the number of officially confirmed cases of the coronavirus infection in Lebanon  exceeded 250,000.

As many as 67,655 new cases were recorded during the first two weeks of 2021. Therefore, the lockdown period in the country is to be extended for at least ten more days.

"The epidemiological scene in Lebanon reflects part of the reality, not all of it. The real situation will be worse yet.  All the beds designated for COVID-19 patients in hospitals are occupied, as well as in emergency departments, and there are dozens of patients moving from one hospital to another in search of a bed. Hospitals have exceeded their capacity," Suleiman Haroun, the chief of the Lebanese Syndicate of Private Hospitals said.

Pulmonologist and intensive care specialist Dr. Wael Jaroush shared his concerns of the current crisis:
"I have never seen anything like what I see in the hospitals now. I never imagined that I would ever go through such an experience. There is no room for patients in the emergency departments. They are dying in their homes. Some of them are begging to buy oxygen generators, new or second hand. The price of a new one is normally $700, yet people are selling used devices for about $5,000, and some patients are forced to buy them in foreign currency, meaning that the patient's family buy the dollar on the black market for more than LBP8,000."

The rise in the number of infections is taking place as a result of friends and family meetings that many people had at the end of 2020 and then in the first 10 days of January, Jaroush said.

On Sunday, it was announced that Beirut's Military Hospital, which provides care for military personnel and their families, exceeded its capacity too. The hospital management was forced to take 23 rooms in a private hospital that was damaged in the Beirut port explosion last August. The Lebanese Army Works Regiment is working to make it available within days to accommodate cases that need intensive care.
Assem Araji, the head of the health committee of the Lebanese Parliament, said:

"Despite the sanctions that the Ministry of Health decided to impose on some private hospitals that did not respond to the request to open departments to receive patients, certain hospitals did not comply. We have reached a catastrophic stage that calls for national responsibility."

"A complete lockdown for 11 days is not sufficient to limit the spread of the virus. Rather, it should be closed for three weeks, as recommended by the World Health Organization," he added.