Lebanon Coronavirus Debate: Thank You Iran or Thank You Italy?!

coronavirus test

March 19, 2020

Marwa Haidar

Shortly after the Lebanese Health Ministry announced first confirmed coronavirus case in the country earlier last month, anti-Hezbollah local factions politicized the matter.

The ministry made the announcement on February 21, saying that the patient was a pilgrim who returned from Iran. These factions, along with their affiliated media outlets took aim at the resistance and the Islamic Republic, blaming them for “sending” the contagious virus to Lebanon.

“Thank you Iran for letting a plane carrying coronavirus infected people to enter our airspace,” MTV channel, which is close to the Lebanese Forces Party, started its news bulletin at that day.

“As if what Iran offers to Lebanon is not enough?! So it has sent the corona to finalize its favor,” the Lebanese channel said, wondering: “Is this cooperation? Is this the support which Iran promises?”

As the anti-Iran propaganda campaign has continued, reports by local media emerged, showing the real figures and how the deadly virus was spreading across the country.

In a report broadcast by independent Lebanese channel LBC, on March 14, number of coronavirus patients who came from Iran reached 12. The report said that 5 other patients contracted the disease from those pilgrims. The report added, citing sources at the Lebanese Health Ministry, that one infected person who was in Italy transmitted the disease to other 34 patients, which is double the number of patients who contracted the virus from pilgrims returning from Iran. It is worth mentioning here that the toll of the infections with coronavirus at that day (March 14) was 93.

First Coronavirus Case Reportedly Transmitted from Italy

Later on Wednesday (March 18), Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar revealed that the first coronavirus case was transmitted by a monk who was in Italy and returned to Lebanon between February 15 and February 20, few days before the case from Iran was announced.

Al-Akhbar’s Maysam Rizk reported that a team tasked by the health ministry with monitoring the pandemic has been following up this issue. She said that the monk, whose identity is still unknown or at least unannounced, took part in a religious ceremony at Saint Joseph Monastery in Beirut’s Achrafieh.

Rizk added that the monk transmitted the disease to several monks, noting that the monastery kept silent on the matter of the religious ceremony.

One of the deaths caused by coronavirus was the teacher Maroun Karam, who contracted the disease from the monk, according to the report.

However, and honestly speaking, this debate is meaningless. For Lebanon, it doesn’t matter whether the coronavirus was transmitted by passengers who were in Iran or in Italy. What really matters is how the Lebanese people can combat this disease. So let’s put the politics aside, forget to “thank” neither Iran, nor Italy, and just pray for both of them, pray for Lebanon and for the entire world!

Source: Lebanese media

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