BEIRUT – Health Minister Firass Abiad estimated on Tuesday, ahead of a meeting with the Parliamentary Health Committee that “the opening of schools is likely to accentuate the spread of the virus,” stressing, however, the importance of in-person classes. He added that the number of hospital beds has been increased by almost 30 percent to combat the rise in COVID-19 cases.
Here’s what we know:
• "The important question that arises today is not whether schools must remain closed because of the Omicron [COVID-19 variant], but how classes can be resumed safely for students, teachers, administrative staff, families and society in general," Abiad said, in a series of tweets.
• He called on schools to “ensure compliance with health measures, including wearing masks.” The minister also indicated that “the vaccination rate in schools remains low” as parents refuse to vaccinate their children.
• The minister noted that the presence of antigen testing in schools could help screen for cases, although “false-negative results and asymptomatic [cases] might hinder efforts.”
• Abiad noted that the capacity of the health system to receive patients will depend on the “number of patients requiring hospitalization. The ministry is working to increase the number of beds for COVID-19 patients.”
• “There are limits to what can be done, especially due to the lack of doctors and nurses,” he cautioned. Last September, the World Health Organization reported that nearly 40 percent of doctors and three percent of nurses left Lebanon.
• After a meeting with Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Abiad said the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care had not increased significantly.
• The premier and health minister discussed several procedures carried out by the ministry, including the opening of a field emergency center for COVID-19 using supplies provided by the United Arab Emirates. “This center will be announced within days,” Abiad said.
• He added that the ministry increased the number of hospital beds by almost 30 percent recently, noting that the issue of countrywide closure has been raised, “but so far we are making every effort” to avoid it.
• “Of course we are very interested in the continuation of the school year, especially since we have disabled two academic years in the past, and any additional disruption may have a severe impact on our students, but we must make sure that the opening of schools will take place in the right way,” Abiad said. The health and education ministers will meet today to discuss the fate of schools and decide on a course of action.
BEIRUT – Health Minister Firass Abiad estimated on Tuesday, ahead of a meeting with the Parliamentary Health Committee that “the opening of schools is likely to accentuate the spread of the virus,” stressing, however, the importance of in-person classes. He added that the number of hospital beds has been increased by almost 30 percent to combat the rise in COVID-19 cases.Here’s what we...