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11 Mar 2020 | 04:09 AM UTC

Lebanon: Government confirms first COVID-19 fatality March 10 /update 5

Lebanese authorities confirm first COVID-19 fatality as number of confirmed cases increases March 10; take precautions

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Event

Lebanon recorded its first coronavirus (COVID-19) fatality on Tuesday, March 10, as well as a total of 52 cases. The fatality was a 52-year-old male who had traveled to Egypt and was in critical condition upon his arrival to the Rafic Hariri University Hospital.

Previously, on Monday, March 9, Middle East Airlines announced the temporary suspension of flights to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar due to the global coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Travelers with reservations from March 9, through Tuesday, March 31, are exempt from rebooking and reservation cancelation fees.

The Tourism Ministry announced that bars would close as of March 9, and night clubs have been closed since Saturday, March 7. These establishments are to remain close until at least Sunday, March 15.

Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 28, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the risk of spread and the risk of impact of the virus is "very high" at the global level.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone non-essential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

Potentially impacted travelers are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.

To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider.

In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, individuals are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid potential spread of the disease.