The Alpha variant of coronavirus (COVID-19) has reached Lebanon, Abdul Rahman Bizri, head of the National COVID-19 Vaccine Committee, has revealed.
Bizri told the Voice of Lebanon radio station on Thursday that Lebanon had entered a Delta variant wave weeks ago, “and it is not surprising that most of the infections are of this strain. The Alpha variant is also present in Lebanon.”
The Alpha variant was first reported in the United Kingdom in November 2020. Studies have indicated that it is nearly 50%-60% more transmissible than the original virus strain, but 50%-60% less transmissible than the Delta strain.
Lebanon’s first case of the Delta variant was detected on July 2nd when 9 cases of the infectious strain were confirmed by the Health Ministry. Since then the Delta variant has spread rapidly in the country.
According to Bizri, the recent rise in daily infection cases in Lebanon can be attributed to three factors.
The first contributor to the surge in infections is opening the country for the summer; the second is the weakness of procedures at Beirut-Rafik Hariri International Airport; and the third is the spread of the new variant, which is highly infectious, Bizri explained.
At the Beirut Airport, “the authorities were unfortunately not ready,” he said.
In an attempt at curbing the spread of COVID-19, the Airport recently introduced new, strict measures, including prohibiting people from entering the arrival/departure halls to greet or bid farewell to passengers.
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Correction: The Alpha variant was first reported in November 2020 – (July 15, 2021, at 12:39 PM): We initially reported that the variant was first reported in December 2020. This has been corrected.