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Morning brief

Everything you need to know to start your Tuesday

Here’s what happened yesterday and what to expect today, Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Everything you need to know to start your Tuesday

The Aug. 4 Beirut port explosion heavily damaged hospitals. (OLJ/Matthieu Karam)

A woman died from injuries sustained in the Aug. 4 Beirut port explosion, becoming the 204th victim of the blast. Dima Abdel Samad Qais had been at Roum Hospital when the explosion occurred; she died yesterday after weeks in a coma, according to local media. Caretaker Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad mourned her relative’s death on Twitter, saying that the crime of the port explosion should not go unpunished. In the 12 weeks since the devastating blast, no one has yet been brought to justice.

The head of the National Social Security Fund called on the Finance Ministry to immediately pay out LL4 trillion owed to the fund. Mohammad Karaki said that the fund was at risk of not being able to provide health coverage to 1.6 million beneficiaries by the end of the year, warning of a “large social catastrophe the country has not witnessed before.” Karaki also approved the disbursement of LL58 billion in funds to hospitals — on the condition that they admit all patients covered by the social security fund.

Trash collection in Beirut’s suburbs and areas of Mount Lebanon resumed after a meeting between waste management companies and caretaker Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni. Hezbollah MP Amin Sharri, also present, said that Wazni had agreed to relay a proposal to solve the problem to the central bank. CityBlu, a firm contracted to pick up trash in the southern suburbs of Beirut, Baabda, Aley and Chouf, had suspended operations due to mounting debts at banks, our sister publication L’Orient-Le Jour reported. Garbage collection in Beirut has also been threatened, with Ramco warning Sunday it could be forced to stop its services this week.

The Finance Ministry announced it will transfer funds owed to local governments to the central bank for distribution. The statement said the amount was for 50 percent of the revenues accrued by the Independent Municipal Fund in 2018, or LL227 billion. The Independent Municipal Fund, which serves as the main source of income for municipalities and municipal federations in the country, has come under fire for delays in disbursement and its criteria for payouts to local governments.

Caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan reiterated his concerns yesterday that localized lockdowns were not successfully stopping the spread of COVID-19. In a meeting with the Health Ministry’s scientific committee, Hassan also said that a number of private hospitals in Beirut and Mount Lebanon had not yet set up departments to take in patients with the virus, adding that he wanted the ministers of justice and interior to tackle the issue. Lebanon registered 14 more COVID-19 deaths on Monday, bringing the death toll to 579. The surge in COVID-19 cases continues to strain the hospital system, with just 40 out of 282 ICU beds open, according to the World Health Organization.


A woman died from injuries sustained in the Aug. 4 Beirut port explosion, becoming the 204th victim of the blast. Dima Abdel Samad Qais had been at Roum Hospital when the explosion occurred; she died yesterday after weeks in a coma, according to local media. Caretaker Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad mourned her relative’s death on Twitter, saying that the crime of the port...