Lebanon’s Rafic Hariri University (RHU) Hospital has today confirmed its first death from coronavirus, the Daily Star reported.
In a statement, the Health Ministry confirmed that the patient was a 56-year-old Lebanese citizen who travelled via airplane from Egypt to Lebanon on 20 February.
He was initially treated at the Notre Dame de Secours Hospital in Byblos, a coastal town in the north of Lebanon, but was later transferred to the specialist unit set up in the RHU hospital in Beirut.
Today saw the largest one-day increase since the first case of coronavirus in Lebanon was announced on 21 February, with nine new cases confirmed. Lebanon has now confirmed a total of 41 cases, with four in a critical state in the RHU hospital.
Iraq has confirmed a seventh death today, while Iran reported 54 more deaths, raising the death toll to 291. Egypt reported its first death on Sunday, after a tourist tested positive for the virus on Friday.
Lebanon’s Minister of Health Hamad Hassan said last week that the country has moved beyond the phase of “containment” and would now brace itself for a more serious outbreak.
Adding that most cases within Lebanon have been traced to other countries.
Naharnet reported that a man suspected of having coronavirus escaped the RHU hospital after undertaking initial testing but refusing to stay in quarantine today.
The man was later arrested at Beirut’s international airport and returned to the hospital with the Red Cross.
Director of the airport’s health office, Dr Hasan Mallah, said the airport was “notified of his issue and we circulated his name to General Security, which apprehended him”.
Lebanon has suspended parliamentary sessions for over a week over coronavirus fears, and closed educational institutions, sports clubs, nightclubs and pubs and warned against large gatherings.
On 28 February, the government imposed travel bans on non-residents arriving from major outbreak hubs, including China, South Korea, Iran and Italy.
Lebanon is in the midst of the country’s worst economic and political crises since the end of the civil war in 1990, and officially defaulted on its $1.2 billion Eurobond repayment yesterday.
While Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab said in a televised address on 2 March that “the state is no longer able to protect its citizens”.