Lebanon’s Health Minister confirmed today the first Coronavirus case in Lebanon, after a 45-year old Lebanese woman traveling from Iran was diagnosed with the virus. Apparently, Lebanon received a warning from its embassy in Tehran about a plane carrying potential coronavirus cases, which led the authorities to deploy a medical team to examine all passengers on the plane as soon as it landed but they weren’t quarantined for some reason. The Minister denied though being informed by the Iranian authorities about a potential coronavirus case.

The woman was taken directly to isolation at the Rafic Hariri hospital and her condition is stable according to a medical source.

Why did Iran allow this woman to board?

I don’t know how credible the warning from the embassy is, but this woman should not have been allowed to board the plane if she presented symptoms at the airport in Iran. Speaking of airports, there are several measures being taken at airports to detect a coronavirus infection but unfortunately they’re not very efficient, which is why it is important for passengers to contact local health departments or notify the authorities if they have any symptoms.

Are there other confirmed cases?

Two other passengers were suspected but so far we only have one confirmed case. A lot of rumors are circulating now, so it’s better to stick to the Ministry’s official statements.

Should we panic?

The Coronavirus is like any other virus out there and its symptoms are very similar to other viruses like the swine flu. There’s no need to panic, the only thing needed is following basic protective measures as suggested by the WHO, watching out for potential symptoms and seeking medical assistance if needed.

Do we need to wear masks?

Don’t rush to buy overpriced masks from pharmacies. If you are healthy, you don’t need to unless you’re taking care of an infected person, or if you’re coughing or sneezing or have a low immunity. Again follow the guidelines by WHO on that matter.

Should we ban flights from Iran?

It may be a bit too soon to ban flights, but it wouldn’t hurt to take drastic measures especially that there are two confirmed deaths in Iran and the World Health Organization declared the outbreak an international health emergency.

Is Lebanon prepared for a coronavirus epidemic?

No country is fully prepared for a coronavirus epidemic and Lebanon is definitely not ready due to lack of resources and funding. We don’t have isolation facilities and we’re on the brink of defaulting, so there’s not enough money to train & equip all hospitals. Nevertheless, as long as we do the necessary checks at the airport and proper follow-ups for any infected person, we will hopefully be able to control it and stop it from spreading. The measures taken yesterday were not enough as the Hariri hospital wasn’t prepared and many patients went back home.

Watch the below video to know how you can protect yourself: