Opinion

Over half of Beirut health facilities ‘non-functional’: WHO

The Moroccan field hospital in Karantina, near the Port of Beirut, August 12, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 12 August 2020

Over half of Beirut health facilities ‘non-functional’: WHO

  • WHO’s Richard Brennan: Following an assessment of 55 clinics and health centers in the Lebanese capital, ‘we know now that just over 50 percent are non-functional’
  • Brennan urged authorities to ‘restore functionality of many of those health facilities as quickly as possible’ to help the country deal with both casualties of the blast and a spike in COVID-19 cases

CAIRO: More than half of Beirut’s health care facilities evaluated by the World Health Organization are “non-functional” following last week’s deadly portside explosion, the organization said Wednesday.
Following an assessment of 55 clinics and health centers in the Lebanese capital, “we know now that just over 50 percent are non-functional,” said WHO’s regional emergency director Richard Brennan at a virtual press conference in Cairo.
Three major hospitals were non-functional and another three operating at well below normal capacity, he said.
“That means we have lost around 500 beds,” he added.
He urged Lebanese authorities and their partners to “restore functionality of many of those health facilities as quickly as possible” to help the country deal with both casualties of the blast and a spike in novel coronavirus cases.
Lebanon has so far tallied 7,121 cases including 87 deaths, out of a population of six million, according to the Lebanese health ministry’s tally on Tuesday.

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The Eastern Mediterranean country was rocked on August 4 by its worst-ever peacetime disaster when more than 2,700 tons of amoninum nitrate exploded at Beirut port, killing 171 people and disfiguring the country’s capital.
Iman Shankiti, WHO Representative for Lebanon, said intensive care units and regular beds were occupied by trauma cases following the explosion.
This, coupled with the increase in coronavirus infections, resulted in “deficiency within the ICU and the regular beds in hospitals... which will have an impact on the hospitalization capacity in Lebanon,” she added.


Palestinians allowed to pray in Al-Aqsa Mosque

Updated 23 October 2020

Palestinians allowed to pray in Al-Aqsa Mosque

  • Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, who had been barred for four months in June, was able to attend the Friday prayers
  • Palestinians from inside Israel were among those reaching Jerusalem for the weekly Friday prayers

AMMAN: An estimated 15,000 Palestinian worshippers flocked to Al-Aqsa Mosque for Friday prayers, one month after the Israeli authorities banned entry due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Al-Aqsa’s preacher and the head of the Higher Islamic Committee, Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, who had been barred for four months in June, was able to attend the Friday prayers. He told Arab News that the situation was back to normal. “All gates were open today and the Israelis allowed worshipers access to the mosque,” he said. Sheikh Sabri had issued calls to Muslims who could attend Friday prayers.
Hijazi Risheq, the head of the Jerusalem merchants committee, told Arab News that for the first time in weeks Israeli soldiers allowed entry to Islam’s third holiest mosque.
He said: “No Israeli soldiers were seen at the entrance of Jerusalem’s old city, allowing free access to the walled city, but some Palestinian youth with West Bank ID were prevented access to the mosque.”
Palestinians from inside Israel were among those reaching Jerusalem for the weekly Friday prayers.
Risheq told Arab News that the past week had been difficult for the city’s business community.
“During last week we witnessed an unprecedented and nasty campaign by the Israeli occupation forces against the merchants and residents of the city of Jerusalem. Shopkeepers were fined exorbitant violations of 5,000 shekels ($1,500) and any clients at the shops were also fined 500 shekels.”
Rizeq said that there appeared to be miscommunication and contradictions in the orders and guidance by the Israeli forces — “all at the expense of the merchants and residents of the city.”
The prevention of entry to the old city was a combination of the Jewish holidays and the lockdown due to the coronavirus, Palestinians told Arab News.
The Jerusalem Waqf Council had issued a six-point guide to worshippers giving medical advice about social distancing and about bringing their own prayer rugs, and recommended that older Muslims stay away from Al-Aqsa for their own protection.
Miki Rosenfeld, a spokesman for the Israeli police, confirmed the prayers for Muslims. “The Temple Mout (Al-Aqsa) was open on Friday and the prayers took place in a regular and quiet manner,” he told Arab News.