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MORNING BRIEF

Internet woes to ease, frigid weather persists, Health Ministry announces pharmacies inspection: Everything you need to know to start your Thursday

Here’s what happened yesterday and what to expect today, Thursday, Jan. 20

Internet woes to ease, frigid weather persists, Health Ministry announces pharmacies inspection: Everything you need to know to start your Thursday

A poster depicting Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is seen next to snow covered trees in Zillaya, Lebanon on Jan.19, 2022. (Credit: Aziz Taher/Reuters)

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The internet disruptions of the past few days should cease, Ogero chairman says, with most telecommunication facilities having received fuel. Imad Kreidieh, chair of the state telecommunications company, said the supply process continues to the rest of the facilities. Last weekend, Ogero suffered from service outages across large swathes of Beirut and elsewhere in the country. According to Telecommunications Minister Johnny Corm and Kreidieh, the outages occurred as a result of an administrative delay in the payment of additional funds allocated to the office by Parliament. Students in two Nabatieh villages yesterday complained to the education minister that the lack of Ogero service, which has reportedly been suspended for nearly two weeks there, is impeding remote education, which is necessitated by COVID-19. With the sector generally in dire financial circumstances, the chair of Parliament’s telecommunications and information committee said on Tuesday that he opposed raising mobile tariffs outside the context of a comprehensive economic recovery plan.

Lebanon continues to experience a large winter storm, with snow at high altitudes causing road and school closures. Authorities warned people living in mountainous areas not to leave their houses unless necessary and to equip their cars with metal chains. As of yesterday roads between 800 and 1,500 meters were accessible to cars with metal chains on their tires but roads above 1,500 meters were completely closed. With severe electricity and generator rationing in place, electric heat will not be an option for many. Gas bottles for gas-powered heaters have risen sharply in price during the crisis, all of which raises the risk of people freezing in the storm.

Residents in the Bekaa town of Jeb Jenine held two sit-ins yesterday in support of a man who briefly took hostages inside a bank branch Tuesday demanding his deposit be returned to him. Abdullah al-Saai has been accused of brandishing a gun, a grenade and gasoline inside the Jeb Jenine branch of Bank of Beirut and the Arab Countries, where he threatened to start a fire if the bank did not give him the $50,000 he had in his account. Saai appears to have sympathizers among his neighbors, with sit-ins being held in front of the BBAC branch and the town’s Serail. Saai has announced he will observe a hunger strike until he is released, according to our correspondent in the area.

Health Minister Firass Abiad announced a new round of inspections to confirm pharmacists are complying with official drug prices. Since last November, subsidies on pharmaceuticals have largely been lifted, but some drugs like those used for cancer treatments, dialysis and mental health treatments remain subsidized. The pharmacists' syndicate agreed to the compliance measures and issued the announcement jointly with the ministry.

In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from yesterday: “The last subsidy standing: Lebanon's wheat subsidy is still in place, but is it working?





Want to get the Morning Brief by email? Click here to sign up.The internet disruptions of the past few days should cease, Ogero chairman says, with most telecommunication facilities having received fuel. Imad Kreidieh, chair of the state telecommunications company, said the supply process continues to the rest of the facilities. Last weekend, Ogero suffered from service outages across large...