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Morning brief

Everything you need to know to start your Thursday

Here’s what happened yesterday and what to expect today, Thursday, November 19, 2020

Everything you need to know to start your Thursday

Public hospitals like Beirut's Rafik Hariri University Hospital have handled the majority of coronavirus cases thus far, despite the greater number of beds at private hospitals. (AFP/Joseph Eid)

Hamad Hassan pledged that a World Bank loan would be used to help fund COVID-19 treatments in private hospitals. The outgoing health minister also signed an agreement with the head of the Syndicate of Private Hospitals that sets out new tariffs for certain coronavirus-related costs, removing excuses for private hospitals not to accept patients. Public health officials have been calling on the private sector to increase bed capacity, but some private hospitals have said financial constraints mean they are unable to. Meanwhile, the Association of Banks in Lebanon asked banks to allow medical importers to pay their dollar obligations via bank transfers or checks instead of cash.

A bill that would offer more protection to survivors of domestic violence moved a step closer to ratification. Nine parliamentary committees met for a joint session and approved amendments to a 2014 domestic violence law. Advocates had called for language that would allow a woman who left her husband because he was abusive to take custody of all children under the age of 18 in the household, but some MPs had objected that this would override custody rules set by the religious courts. Inaya Ezzeddine, the chair of the Women and Children’s Committee, said the version passed by the joint committees yesterday was a compromise that would allow the mother to take children up to the age of 13. She noted that children who are victims of abuse can be placed under a protective order regardless of age. MPs also approved a bill that would validate a partnership agreement between Lebanon and the UK before the latter formally severs ties with the European Union at the end of the year.

Three parliamentary committees will meet this morning. A subcommittee of the joint committees headed by Yassine Jaber will study a draft law on public procurement. Creating a new law that allows accountability and transparency around public spending was one of the key reforms demanded by the international community at the 2018 CEDRE donor conference. Meanwhile, the Youth and Sports Committee, headed by Simon Abi Ramia, will look at licensing leisure clubs, while the chair of the National Economy, Trade, Industry and Planning Committee, Farid Boustany, said his committee has a long list of items to discuss, including trade agreements with foreign partners and the audit of the central bank.

Official celebrations for Lebanon’s 77th independence day on Sunday have been canceled in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Unlike in typical years, when Beirut is shut down for a military parade, the occasion will be marked simply by the laying of wreaths on the graves of key independence figures, to avoid a potential virus super-spreader event. The daily count for COVID-19 cases broke the 2,000 mark again yesterday, the fifth day of a two-week nationwide lockdown.


Hamad Hassan pledged that a World Bank loan would be used to help fund COVID-19 treatments in private hospitals. The outgoing health minister also signed an agreement with the head of the Syndicate of Private Hospitals that sets out new tariffs for certain coronavirus-related costs, removing excuses for private hospitals not to accept patients. Public health officials have been calling on the...