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Hezbollah rallies medical teams, hospitals against coronavirus in Lebanon

Hezbollah said its plan will comply with WHO and Lebanese Health Ministry protocols [Getty]

Date of publication: 26 March, 2020

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Hezbollah is deploying some 25,000 people and establishing new hospitals to help contain Lebanon's COVID-19 outbreak.
Lebanese militant group Hezbollah is rounding up around 25,000 people, including thousands of health workers, and preparing hospitals as part of Lebanon's COVID-19 response, according to a Wednesday Reuters report.

Hezbollah's plan involves deploying 1,500 doctors, 3,000 nurses and paramedics and 20,000 more activists, Sayyed Hashem Safieddine, head of Hezbollah's executive council, said on the group's Al-Manar television channel.

"It is a real war that we must confront with the mindset of a warrior," said Safieddine. "Our role is to complement the government apparatus and not to stand in its place."

Lebanon has recorded 368 COVID-19 cases as of Thursday, along with six deaths.

The government, formed with support from Hezbollah and its allies, has declared a medical emergency.

The Shia group also picked the current minister of health and his predecessor.

Hezbollah dedicated a Beirut hospital it owns to treating coronavirus patients, rented four unused hospitals, prepared 32 medical centres across Lebanon and laid plans for three field hospitals if needed. Government hospitals would also be supported by volunteer medical and nursing teams, according to Safieddine.

Safieddine said the group rented hotels to be used for quarantine.

Additionally, the plan involves monitoring those confirmed to be infected with the virus to ensure compliance with guidelines and following up on those in quarantine or isolated at home.

The work outlined in Hezbollah's plan will also comply with World Health Organisation and Health Ministry protocols, Safieddine said.

"Managing crises and managing wars ... are not that different," said Safieddine.

Safieddine added Hezbollah had monitored 1,200 people who had returned from Iran, including pilgrims and 220 students who had been studying in Qom, a holy Iranian city to Shia Muslims.

Lebanon’s first confirmed coronavirus case was a woman who had returned from Qom.

Lebanon's coronavirus outbreak comes amid the country's deep financial crisis.

This week, the Lebanese government said it will stop outstanding Eurobonds payments over the next 15 years to ease pressure on the country's dwindling foreign reserves.

Hezbollah, which has strongly opposed foreign interference in the country's economic crisis, said last week it could accept Beirut receiving an International Monetary Fund financial rescue package under "reasonable conditions".

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