Baby tests positive for COVID-19 in Lebanon


BEIRUT: A four-month-old baby boy has become the youngest person to test positive for coronavirus in Lebanon.

The infant returned the positive test alongside his six-year-old sister and both his parents.

The boy’s father, Mazen Al-Muqaddam, revealed the test results, saying that his son’s symptoms “are still tolerable” and that the family is receiving treatment while quarantining at home in the southern village of Toul.

“My son Mohammed started showing symptoms three days ago. He was coughing and unable to sleep,” the father said.

“Doctors told us that we caught the virus a week ago. We still do not know how. For nine months we have been following all the necessary preventive measures.”

Despite eight days of total lockdown, the number of coronavirus cases in Lebanon is still rising, with 64 deaths recorded on Wednesday.

A 24-year-old woman was among the latest victims.

The latest surge in cases has filled public and private hospital emergency wards, and stretched medical and nursing staff to the limit.

A Supreme Defense Council meeting led by President Michel Aoun on Thursday decided to extend the lockdown until Feb. 8.

Lebanon is expected to start receiving the Pfizer vaccine early in February, with Hassan Diab, the country’s caretaker prime minister, confirming that “all financial and administrative procedures have been completed to ensure the arrival of the vaccine in the specified period.”

Gen. Joseph Aoun, the armed forces commander, visited a military hospital in Beirut on Thursday, including a section dedicated to COVID-19 patients.

The hospital is also struggling due to the large number of infections among military personnel and their families.

Meanwhile, Dr. Abdul-Rahman Al-Bizri, head of the national committee for infectious diseases, outlined the strategy for distribution of the Pfizer vaccine to a meeting of the parliamentary health committee.

Assem Araji, head of the committee, said that Lebanon has agreements to receive 2.2 million vaccines from Pfizer and a further 1.5 million vaccines through the COVAX platform, while talks with AstraZeneca are continuing in order to secure an additional 2 million vaccines.

“This will bring our total to 6 million vaccines, which will allow us to vaccinate around 3 million citizens and residents,” he said.

Araji said that Syrian and Palestinian refugees will be among those vaccinated.

“If we do not vaccinate between 70 and 80 percent of the population, we will not be able to contain the pandemic,” he added.

“We will start with 250,000 Pfizer vaccines in the first quarter of 2021. We will have 350,000 vaccines for the second quarter and 800,000 for the third quarter, while we will have 600,000 vaccines available during the last quarter of the year, bringing the total to 2.1 million vaccines.”

Health workers, including doctors, pharmacists, nurses and hospital staff, will be first to receive the vaccine. They will be followed by people over 75.

Individuals under 16 years of age will need parental approval to receive the vaccine, he added.

Araji said a health ministry platform will be launched on Monday allowing people to register for the vaccine. After registration, the platform will direct people to a vaccination center.

Inoculations will take place at 35 centers around the country.