Lebanon is approaching the second millennium on the number of daily infections with the Covid-19 virus, as it recorded today, Wednesday, according to the Ministry of Health, 1994 new infections and 9 deaths. In a new wave of the spread of the virus that Lebanon, like most countries of the world, is experiencing, and is approaching its peak with the approach of the festive season, which imposes more mixing between people.
The difference in the case of Lebanon is that while the world accumulates experience and capabilities in confronting the pandemic and the disease is racing with vaccination campaigns, Lebanon suffers from an accumulation of a structural deficit in its health sector, as a result of the economic crisis, and a deterioration in the country’s readiness that makes facing a new wave of spread of the disease more like an impossible task, he asserts. Those concerned, which portend a future health tragedy, officials are trying to avoid.
Despite the hopes placed on vaccination campaigns and the turnout rates among citizens, the results still bear a large gap between the percentage of those receiving the vaccine, which amounted to 33% for two doses and 40% for one dose, and the percentage of positive infections recorded through examinations, which amounted to 10.3%, while the Ministry of Health records Health: There were 21057 active cases in the country during the past two weeks.
The most dangerous wave
Lebanon had previously witnessed 3 waves of the spread of the Corona pandemic, which accompanied the global waves, the largest of which was the wave that followed the Christmas and New Year period, and it succeeded in overcoming it at the time, relying on foreign aid and government and private sector hospitals, but a whole year of continuous financial collapse replaced the scene. And it produced new data that would put Lebanon in front of the most dangerous wave of the pandemic’s life if the holiday scenario was repeated.
According to the head of the Parliamentary Health Committee in Lebanon, Dr. Assem Araji, if Lebanon witnesses a major outbreak of the disease, the economic reality will represent the first obstacle to everyone and the most prominent challenge to the readiness of the health sector, “and today we may not be able to do half of the effort made last year, and for this reason We will be facing the most difficult stage.”
For his part, the head of the National Committee for the Administration of the Corona Vaccine in Lebanon, Dr. Abdel Rahman Al-Bizri, adds that the next wave on Lebanon is driven by several factors, the first of which is related to the cold weather that dominates the country, “where respiratory viruses are active and spread more, while people are confined to their homes and places. Closed spaces are more than open spaces, and therefore this contributes to the spread of the disease faster.”
The second factor, according to Al-Bizri, is the factor of vaccination, which is still low in Lebanon, “despite reaching the 40% threshold, we hoped that the percentage would be greater due to the availability of capabilities and the sufficient number of vaccines.”
In his speech to Al-Hurra, he adds that the third factor is people’s failure to comply with the conditions of social separation and preventive measures to avoid transmitting Corona infection, such as putting a mask and avoiding large and uncontrolled gatherings, “these factors, if taken together, we will be facing a difficult wave.”
Regarding the strain currently prevalent in Lebanon, Al-Bizri points out that the most prevalent mutant today in Lebanon is the Delta mutant, and so far no infection has been detected from the Omicron strain, “and when the mutant arrives, we will announce the matter as we announced the Delta mutant before.”
The health sector is helpless
All of these factors are reflected in the hospitals’ “certain” inability to confront and complete the readiness, according to what the head of the Syndicate of Owners of Private Hospitals Suleiman Haroun confirms to Al-Hurra website. The pressure is all over, and there is no patient left without treatment, but today there is no possibility of returning to the same readiness.”
The lack of preparedness of the health sector, according to MP Araji, “raises fear more than the disease itself,” especially in terms of the shortage of medical staff due to the migration of doctors and nurses abroad in an effort to improve their living conditions after the collapse of the purchasing value of their salaries in Lebanon.
As well as with regard to the readiness of hospitals and their equipment, which has been greatly affected by the economic reality, as Araji points out that a large number of hospitals have closed departments for Corona patients, and the number of beds has decreased from 2,500 beds a year ago to about 800, which today includes about 570 patients, and thus approaching the stage of Complete brilliance, “and while the reality of government hospitals is deteriorating due to the erosion of their budgets, the Minister of Health is currently trying to put pressure on private hospitals in order to increase the number of beds by about 40%.”
On the other hand, the majority of hospitals that closed Corona departments are facing difficulty in reopening them in light of the crisis experienced by the hospital sector in Lebanon, according to the Syndicate of Hospital Owners, which indicates the lack of sufficient numbers of doctors and nurses to open new departments, in addition to financial difficulties resulting from the high The prices of medical supplies and equipment, and the insufficient stock of them in hospitals, “because it drains very large amounts of cash in dollars, while Corona patients consume a lot of medical equipment, especially clothing for isolation and prevention, as well as for oxygen, which is also sold in dollars.”
Representative Araji asserts that Lebanon’s arrival to a similar stage of spread last year will put it “in front of a tragedy.” The problem is not the number of injuries, but rather the size of patients who will need hospitals. He added, “During the past year, many patients were treated at home, but the economic reality was a little better. They were then able to provide oxygen and its machines in their homes, but today oxygen is at the price of the dollar, and the significant increase in the cost of electricity has led to a large number of citizens abandoning generator electricity.” While drug prices are burning.”
On the other hand, the hospital bill for Corona patients has doubled at least four or five times, according to the Syndicate of Hospital Owners’ Syndicate, as the cost per night in the intensive care unit ranges between 7 and 10 million Lebanese pounds, while in regular rooms the cost ranges between 3 million And half and 5 million per day, due to the lifting of subsidies on medical supplies and medicines, while the price of oxygen has doubled 5 times.
This will affect people’s receiving of her treatments, according to Haroun, “and the danger here is not limited to Corona patients, as even ordinary patients are no longer able to enter hospitals because of the large differences in the hospital bill for the insured and the insured.”
“The numbers have become imaginary,” according to MP Araji, as the Lebanese state is unable to pay, as well as for insurance companies and guarantors, “all of whom are unable to bear the differences and pay the costs, especially after the tariffs doubled.”
Araji points out that “the Ministry of Health will pay three and a half times the hospital bill for hospitals, with funding from the World Bank, but the cost of any medical supplies has become expensive at the dollar price, will fall on the patient, and this is a crisis in itself.”
This measure taken by the Ministry of Health may help reduce part of the hospital costs for patients, “but it does not solve the problem,” according to Haroun, who confirms that the Lebanese have reached the stage of “strife after poverty, and hospitalization has cost tens of millions, and this is reflected in the hospital sector.” Clearly, the hospital occupancy rate has fallen to 50%.”
All of the above is the reason for the severity of the warnings issued by officials in Lebanon, according to the head of the National Committee for the Management of the Corona Vaccine, who indicates that the Lebanese authorities avoid taking painful steps such as closing the country, disrupting the school year or sabotaging the holiday season, “but people in return have to Reducing herself, the health sector and the economy by adhering to preventive measures, activating the vaccination process, in addition to social distancing in crowded places and during movements.
In its last session, the Lebanese Parliament approved a law to pay a fine of 50 thousand to 250 thousand Lebanese pounds to anyone who refrains from taking the Corona vaccine, noting that this law does not obligate taking the vaccine, but rather imposes a fine on everyone who spreads the epidemic.
Strict preventive measures will also be followed to prevent roaming on those who did not receive the vaccine, except on the condition that they present a PCR examination that does not exceed the 48-hour date of its issuance, and imposes vaccination on a large group of employees and workers in certain sectors such as public transport and the health sector.
These measures caused confusion on social media, and accusations of the Lebanese state as placing responsibility on the shoulders of citizens instead of working to cover the deficit in the health sector, reduce the cost of hospitalization and medicines, and activate the vaccination movement, especially since a large number of citizens are still waiting for their turn to take the vaccine through registration. In the private platform of the Lebanese Ministry of Health, while others express difficulty in accessing vaccines.
However, Al-Bizri believes that this consideration is incorrect, as the Lebanese state says today that it has secured a sufficient number of vaccines, and is still expanding the spread of vaccination centers in various regions in front of everyone who wants to receive the vaccine, while the measures taken aim to prove that hikers are not infected and their contribution to spreading the disease Transmitting the infection is not a personal decision as much as it is a collective responsibility.
The other alternative to these measures, according to Al-Bizri, is to close the country, “with the devastating economic effects that this will have on people in the first place, in addition to leading to health problems and other psychological and neurological diseases that are no less dangerous to citizens.”
For his part, Araji concludes, stressing that there are enough vaccines for everyone, but on the other hand, there is a great lack of public awareness about the importance of the vaccine and a great drift behind rumors despite all the media and health efforts made, and considering that “the answer to all fears and the best solution for everyone lies in receiving the vaccine.” as soon as possible.”