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The New Arab Staff

Lebanese health minister admitted to hospital with Covid-19, a week after 'dinner party'

Minister Hamad Hassan allegedly took part in a large lunch [Twitter]

Date of publication: 14 January, 2021

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Lebanon's minister of public health has been admitted to hospital, just over a week after he was allegedly pictured at a large social gathering.
Lebanon's minister of health has been admitted to hospital after testing positive for coronavirus, a week after he was allegedly pictured at a large gathering for dinner, which would break his government's own restrictions on social gatherings.

On Wednesday, the caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan was admitted to St. Georges Al-Hadath Hospital.

A statement from the ministry of public health said that he "was infected with the coronavirus, and was admitted to the hospital to receive treatment".

Lebanon has been ravaged by the coronavirus following Christmas and New Year holidays, with hospitals running out of beds to treat critically ill patients.

Hassan's diagnosis follows an earlier embarrassment when, on 6 January, local media published a photo of the minster taking part in a large lunch gathering, contravening government instructions limiting the number of people who can meet.

The lunch was also attended by the minister and director general of the minstry of economy and trade.

Following criticism of the meal, an apology was issued that stated the minister was the last to arrive and was surprised by the number of people in attendance.

His guests reportedly insisted that he stay, which he did, and reportedly wore a mask for the duration of the event. 

"What happened was spontaneous, and we reiterate our regret for the embarrassment we caused to the two ministers and to His Excellency the Director General," the statement continued.

Twitter users derided the minster for attending the lunch party at the height of the pandemic.

"Sahtein [good health] to the ministers of health and economy for the lunch in the age of COVID-19 and then you dare to say that people are irresponsible," one person wrote.

The New Arab approached the ministry of public health for comment but did not receive a response at the time of publication.  

Read more: Beirut Explosion: Be angry, not just sad, for Lebanon

Infections reached an all-time high on Friday, with 5,440 new cases recorded, bringing the total number since the start of the pandemic to 226,948. As of Tuesday, 1,705 deaths had been registered.

In an effort to stem the spread of the virus, a strict lockdown has been imposed on the country. A 24-hour curfew is in effect and is set to remain in place until 25 January. Supermarkets are closed to the public, but remain open for deliveries.


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