January 28, 2021

Coronavirus Dispatch: Horror scenes in Lebanon intensive care wards

Lebanon’s intensive care wards are gripped with dreaded scenes, leaving the doctors and staff with no choice but to make life and death decisions about who should receive scarce medical resources and choose between two people on who to save and who to leave dying. 

Virus-stricken people are gasping for breath, in the horror hospital scenes as rising cases, following Christmas holidays, swamped the scanty medical resources. The medics say they are on the edge of “the Italy scenario”. More than 1,000 people have died of COVID-19 in Lebanon in January. 

“The country is falling apart,”

While many countries have grappled with hospital bed shortages and the need to prioritise care, Lebanon’s response has been hobbled by the more than year-long financial crisis and the blast at Beirut port, which devastated the city, partly destroying four hospitals.

Two weeks into a strict lockdown, inconsistently enforced, Lebanon’s intensive care units are 94 percent full. The entire country is affected.

Some hospitals had to treat patients in the hallways and in the emergency department entrance. Patients admitted to hectic emergency wards alone face the prospect of dying far from family. Medical staff just hold iPads up to the dying so they can see their families one last time. 

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