Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea and MP Alain Aoun of the Free Patriotic Movement tested negative for COVID-19 after MP George Okais of the LF revealed that he had contracted the virus.
All-Jadeed TV reported that Berri tested negative for the virus, Geagea’s press office declared that “after it turned out that MP George Okais of the Strong Republic bloc is infected with coronavirus, LF leader Samir Geagea underwent a PCR test yesterday and the result came out negative.”
MP Alain Aoun meanwhile tweeted that he also tested negative. “Once I learned of the infection of my colleague George Okais, whom we meet daily in the meetings of several committees the last of which was on Thursday, I underwent a PCR test and my result came out negative,” he said.
According to media reports several MPs and parliament employees had also started undergoing PCR tests as of Saturday afternoon.
Deputy PM and Defense Minister Zeina Akar for her part said she tested negative after her daughter contracted the virus.
The developments prompted Parliament’s General Secretariat to postpone all meetings of the parliamentary committees that had been scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. Berri has also asked lawmakers to undergo PCR tests as of Monday.
Okais reportedly tested himself for the virus after learning that his friend Hadi al-Hashem, the director of the Foreign Minister’s office, was infected with coronavirus.
“He is a friend whom I regularly meet,” Okais said.
“I have tested positive with a low viral load and no symptoms until the moment. I will quarantine myself for two full days and will repeat the test on Monday,” he added.
Lebanon’s government was accused on Saturday of botching its response to the coronavirus pandemic and urged to impose a tough new lockdown after the average number of daily cases doubled in a week.
Lebanon on Sunday reported 175 cases , the highest daily count of coronavirus cases bringing the total to 3,582 and the death toll rose to 47.
Dr. Ismail Sukkarieh, head of the health, rights and dignity commission, said COVID-19 had regained momentum in Lebanon. “The state that is supposed to manage the health crisis has lost its credibility,” he said.
“It did not allocate a specific hospital to receive those who have contracted COVID-19, nor did it train people on how to confront it. Government hospitals are not prepared to confront the pandemic, while private hospitals have relinquished their responsibilities and the state was not able to force them to allocate special departments for people infected with COVID-19, although they have been the biggest beneficiaries of state funds for years.
“The way the airport was reopened to the public was marred by chaos. There were frauds in virus tests, and no measures were taken against the counterfeiters, which proves that people in Lebanon are reckless in dealing with the disease.
“The state wanted to show itself as the victor for reasons not related to health, but the reality is different. They opened the airport, allowed weddings and gatherings, and the real situation was revealed.”
On brink of losing control
Lebanon is “on the brink of losing control” of the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s foremost authority on the subject said Sunday as a second wave of infections swept across the crisis-hit country.
“I believe we are on the brink of losing control. We need a timeout,” head of the Rafik Hariri University Hospital Dr. Firass Abiad said, hinting that a full lockdown was needed.
“It will allow us to reorganize, get our act together. We won the first battle, but this is a war … Sometimes one takes a step backward in order to move two steps forward.”
According to Health Ministry data shared on Twitter by Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s health advisor Petra Khoury Saturday, if the current rate of intensive care admissions is maintained, all of the country’s ICU beds will be occupied by Aug. 14.
The number of hospitalizations for coronavirus between July 12-26 rose 60 percent, while the number of people in intensive care rose 65 percent during that period.
Given that countermeasures such as partial lockdowns take “at least two weeks to show an impact,” Abiad cautioned that they “may not be sufficient” at this stage.