Lebanon’s Overwhelmed Hospitals Turn Away Coronavirus Patients Amid Record Daily Cases

FILE PHOTO: Health workers and members of internal security forces wearing face masks stand inside Beirut international airport on its re-opening day following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Beirut, Lebanon July 1, 2020. REUTERS/Aziz Taher

A surge in coronavirus cases is overwhelming hospitals across Lebanon, leading doctors to tell families to care for sick loved ones at home because there’s no more space in the wards.

Jean Nakhoul, an executive producer for Lebanon’s MTV channel, says his family has been calling around the country and finding no medical treatment for his 83-year-old grandmother who is sick with COVID-19.

“We had a list [of phone numbers] that my uncle and I divided,” he says. “I called around 10 hospitals. Nine of them were full and the last one told me they had one ICU bed left, but that the priority is for young people who need ICUs.”

Lebanon’s health care system was already weak from economic collapse and the Beirut port explosion in August that destroyed buildings across the city, including several hospitals. Now, as the country records its highest number of daily coronavirus infections of the pandemic, hospitals are barely able to find beds for even the most critical patients.

Lebanon registered a record 4,774 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing the total confirmed cases over 200,000 in the country of 6.8 million people. Health authorities say more than 1,500 people in the country have died from COVID-19.

The World Health Organization says occupancy rates of intensive care beds in Beirut and other parts of the country are at 93%-95%. With their COVID-19 wards and ICUs full, doctors say many hospitals are now having to keep critical patients in emergency rooms, which are themselves filling quickly.

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SOURCE: NPR, Ruth Sherlock

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