by Dana Halawi
BEIRUT, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- Lebanon's health experts warned over the weekend of an imminent health disaster if authorities fail to manage the use of fuel resources and adopt proper precautionary measures amid the current increase in COVID-19 cases.
Hospitals must be given priority in terms of fuel distribution, so as to enable the COVID-19 patients to put on ventilators if needed, Mahmoud Hassoun, chairman of the Critical Care Department at Rafic Hariri University Hospital, told Xinhua.
Lebanon has been grappling with fuel shortages for months, while failing to import fuel oil because of the shortage in U.S. currency reserves.
"Half of the hospitals in Lebanon risk shutting down by Tuesday, given that they can not secure diesel to keep operating generators," Suleiman Haroun, president of Syndicate of Private Hospitals, announced on Saturday.
Firas Abiad, director of Rafic Hariri University Hospital, said hospitals must be prioritized with fuel distribution to avert an imminent disaster amid the fast spread of the new Delta variant.
"The COVID-19 patients are facing several challenges amid the fuel shortage and the immigration of a large number of nurses and doctors," Abiad told Xinhua.
Lebanon has recently seen a resurge in the number of daily COVID-19 cases, as the total tally of infections in the country has reached 581,497.
Health experts urged both authorities and citizens to put in force measures in hopes of stopping the spread of the pandemic.
Abiad said the government should adopt a serious approach to monitoring the enforcement of precautionary measures, adding that citizens also need to raise awareness about the seriousness of the Delta variant which is spreading quickly across the country.
For his part, Hassoun said authorities and non-governmental organizations should provide more support to public hospitals, which have become the only resort for most COVID-19 patients amid the increase in the costs of services in private hospitals.
"This is of an utmost importance as some public hospitals are currently unable to re-open their COVID-19 units in light of the financial crisis," he said.
Hassoun emphasized the need by municipalities to assist the government in monitoring people who arrive from other countries to ensure their commitment to precautionary measures.
Meanwhile, Nada Ghosn, head of the Epidemiological Surveillance Program at the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health, urged citizens to get the COVID-19 vaccine, noting that so far, merely one third of the population has been registered for vaccination. Enditem