Middle East

Lebanon to test for coronavirus at refugee camp after first case found

BEIRUT (Reuters) — A team from Lebanon’s Rafik Hariri University Hospital will test for the new coronavirus at a refugee camp on Wednesday after a resident was found to be infected, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said.

A Palestinian refugee from Syria at the Wavel refugee camp in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley was transferred to hospital in Beirut for treatment that will be covered by the relief agency, a statement said.

The Lebanese government has worried about the virus hitting camps for Syrian and Palestinian refugees where high population densities are likely to accelerate its spread.

UNRWA said it was “taking all necessary steps to provide the required assistance to the patient’s family to allow them to isolate themselves inside the house”.

The United Nations says Lebanon has 470,000 registered Palestinian refugees, but an official 2017 census put the number living in the country much lower, at around 175,000. Syrian refugees number around one million of Lebanon’s population of six million.

The UNHCR refugee agency said last month that efforts to curb the coronavirus among refugee communities had started early on with awareness campaigns, distribution of hygiene materials, and preparations for additional hospital capacity.

Lebanon’s health ministry said on Tuesday that it had not recorded a new case of coronavirus in 24 hours, with total infections at 677 and 21 deaths.


Reporting by Eric Knecht; Editing by Giles Elgood

Image: A woman covering her face walks past a poster depicting late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Shatila Palestinian refugee camp, as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Beirut suburbs, Lebanon March 30, 2020. (REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir)

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