The selection of the 111 towns that were ordered to submit to a weeklong lockdown, starting last Sunday, appears to be inaccurate.
In a televised appearance, caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hasan admitted that errors were made deciding which towns and villages must go under lockdown.
“There may have been mathematical errors when taking the decision to close a number of towns,” he said, “but the focus must be on positivity and limiting infections.”
The decision to lock down these 111 towns ensued in an attempt to contain the speeding spread of the coronavirus as Lebanon is going through an alarming spike of cases, with hospitals reportedly having but a very few vacant beds available to receive COVID-19 patients.
The error in the process of selection
The selection of these villages and towns was based on their rate of infections, which is calculated on the ratio of “8+ positive cases per 100,000 people over a period of 14 days.”
However, the involved level of risk can’t be accurately assessed when it comes to the spread of infection due to the fact that Lebanon lacks reliable demographic/population data.
The latest and biggest census, which was conducted in 2018 by the Central Administration of Statistics, was done “at the district level and not at the municipality level,” as explained by Carole Alsharabati, a USEK political science professor, to The Daily Star.
The only platform available to collect reliable data at this stage, according to her, is the digital Inter-Municipal Platform for Assessment, Coordination, and Tracking (IMPACT), which the authorities are starting to use.
At the outbreak of the pandemic, local authorities along with the Lebanese Red Cross and social workers have used IMPACT to start centralizing data on quarantine locations, tracking violations, and monitoring the health of quarantined people.
On Sunday, the first day of the 111-towns’ lockdown, there was only about 70% of commitment to the lockdown measures by the residents, according to caretaker health minister Hasan, while Lebanon confirmed that day 1,002 new cases and eight deaths.
Unfortunately, numerous citizens and also private hospitals are not cooperating to bring the country out of this pandemic.
Aside from many citizens disregarding the preventive measures, “private hospitals are not opening up more beds for coronavirus patients,” Hasan accused in his televised appearance.
Moreover, out of the 30 government hospitals, half of them receive corona patients, he pointed out.