Lebanon's caretaker health minister hospitalised with COVID-19

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon’s Caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan on Wednesday tested positive for coronavirus and was admitted to hospital, a statement from the ministry said.

“The minister has been admitted to Saint George hospital for treatment,” the statement said.

Lebanon’s hospitals are running out of capacity to treat critically ill patients as COVID-19 infections surge after the Christmas and New Year holiday period.

Daily infections reached an all-time high of 5,440 cases on Friday. Lebanon had recorded a total of 226,948 cases with 1,705 deaths up to Tuesday.

Lebanon is currently under a three-week lockdown that ends on Feb. 2.

The country is also introducing a 24-hour curfew that begins Thursday until Jan. 25, the strictest since the start of the pandemic with even supermarkets open only for delivery services.

The pandemic hit Lebanon as it was in the middle of a devastating financial crisis that has crashed the currency, paralysed banks, and frozen savers out of their deposits.

Medical supplies have dwindled as dollars have grown scarce.

Reporting By Laial Bassam and Maha El Dahan; Editing by Alex Richardson