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Lebanon’s leading coronavirus hospital goes on strike

The government has held an emergency meeting to discuss preventative measures against the spread of the virus

Rafic Hariri University Hospital’s employees and contract workers’ committee declared an open-ended strike to start at 9am (07:00 GMT) this morning, in a statement yesterday.

Strikers are protesting the non-payment of their salaries and poor working conditions in the hospital.

The statement said: “Because of the dangers, hardships and hassh conditions under which hospital staff suffer, and the indifference that has become evident by management and stakeholders, the decision was taken… to go on strike.”

“They’re worried about the coronavirus, but they’re not worried about the employees [fighting] against the coronavirus… there is contempt for our lives… our war on coronavirus is no less [important] than the war on terrorism,” said a committee member referring to officials during a televised news conference.

The Rafic Hariri University (RHU) Hospital in Beirut in the leading medical centre set up to combat coronavirus in Lebanon, with four quarantine rooms which conform to global health standards.

Several suspected and confirmed cases have been transferred from across the country to RHU isolation units to receive treatment.

READ: UN: No coronavirus cases among Palestinian refugees in Lebanon

Lebanon reported its first death from the virus on Tuesday, a 56-year-old man with underlying health issues, and has since reported two further deaths and a total of 68 confirmed cases.

While the Health Ministry confirmed the first full recovery by a patient treated in the RHU hospital, in a statement yesterday.

The government held an emergency meeting to discuss preventative measures against the spread of the virus yesterday, and announced plans to halt all flights from Iran, Italy, China and South Korea.

Officials gave Lebanese citizens four days to return from France, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom before travel is banned from those locations.

Though the government fell short of announcing a state of emergency, MTV anchor Nabila Awad, called on people “to act responsibly as if there is a state of emergency in Lebanon.”

READ: Lebanon parliament suspends sessions for over a week over coronavirus

Adding that “each person should stay at home and observe some kind of quarantine. The situation is really very serious and we at MTV are calling on everyone to act as if there is a health emergency.”

The Syndicate of Owners of Restaurants, Cafes, Nightclubs and Pastries announced yesterday that its members would close their doors voluntarily for a period of time and called “on all vital sectors to accompany [them] in this measure, in order to preserve the preventive security and public safety of all citizens in Lebanon”.

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