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Lebanon asks citizens and diaspora for money to fight coronavirus

March 20, 2020 at 12:15 pm

A health official wearing protective suit sprays disinfectant as a precaution against the coronavirus in Beirut, Lebanon on 5 March 2020 [Hussam Chbaro/Anadolu Agency]

Lebanon’s government has called on people living in the country and those abroad to send donations to four bank accounts to aid the country’s fight against coronavirus.

Minister of Information Manal Abdel Samad announced the scheme in a statement on 17 March, adding that the fund will be used “to face this crisis”.

The accounts are expected to hold “Social Aid Donations” which will be distributed to people who cannot work during the nationwide lockdown, according to Samad.

The four accounts will receive donations in four currencies – Lebanese Lira, US Dollars, Euros and British Pounds.

The government have also announced plans to provide food aid to those in need, via local donors, and charities.

Samad added that “PM Diab spoke of the need to open a bank account for social aid donations aimed at helping citizens who have become out of work, and in this regard he announced that there are preparations to distribute food aid in the various regions, through the High Relief Council, municipalities or local donators”.

READ: Lebanon banks to open, defying government coronavirus lockdown

The plan was announced after van drivers from Tripoli blocked parts of the highway between the city and Beirut for two days protesting their loss of income and calling on the government to provide compensation.

While a video surfaced on social media of a man in Tripoli refusing to stop working, asking how he can feed my family while under quarantine.

A handful of politicians, including Samad, Minister of Health Hamad Hassan and Minister for the Displaced Ghada Chriem, have agreed to donate their salaries for March towards efforts to fight the disease.

While several former politicians have donated large sums to hospitals and the government has sought strategic and technical help, as well as essential medical supplies from abroad.

As part of a range of measures to provide information about the disease, the Ministry of Health launched a website tracking the domestic spread of the virus yesterday.

The site, which is only available in Arabic, “includes the latest developments related to the coronavirus and is the official source of all information regarding statistics and efforts made to combat the virus”, Information Minister Samad said.

To date, Lebanon has confirmed a total of 163 cases, and four deaths from the coronavirus.