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World Bank to fund scheme to provide COVID-19 vaccines for Lebanon

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The World Bank said on Thursday it had approved the deployment of  $34m to provide Lebanon with coronavirus vaccines, as the country faces a major surge in COVID-19 cases compounded by an economic crisis.

The World Bank Group President, David Malpass, said this in a statement.

“This is the first World Bank-financed operation to fund the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines. The financing will provide vaccines for more than two million individuals,” Malpass said.

“Fair, broad, and fast access to COVID-19 vaccines is critical to protecting lives and supporting economic recovery,” Malpass said.

The vaccines are expected to arrive in Lebanon by early February, according to the bank.

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Lebanon, a country of about 6 million people, has recently seen a spike in COVID-19 cases that have reached more than 5,000 per day.

The country has declared a health emergency and entered an 11-day total lockdown last Thursday.

The Lebanese government and the National Defence Council, led by President Michel Aoun on Thursday extended the lockdown measures until Feb. 8, the council said in a statement.

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The move is aimed at limiting the spread of the virus and easing pressure on Lebanon’s ailing health sector.

Some hospitals in Lebanon have already started to refuse patients with COVID-19 due to a lack of beds, according to Lebanese media.

Firass Abiad, the Head of the Rafik Hariri University Hospital, a major facility treating coronavirus patients, said there were two reasons to extend the lockdown for two more weeks.

“First, intensity of the community transmission of the virus; second, the current capacity of the health care system,” Abiad wrote on Twitter.

Lebanon has so far recorded more than 264,000 virus cases resulting in 2,084 deaths.

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