MSF has launched a quick response unit in the capital Beirut, where 70 COVID-19 positive cases have been identified. In a 10-day period, our teams took more than 200 swab samples from people with symptoms in the Basta area.
Our teams are providing information to both suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients on their health condition, as well as providing general health awareness sessions and mental health support.
In northern Beirut, MSF has partnered with a local organisation called the Anti-Racism Movement to provide medical support and other assistance through a helpline to migrant communities during the lockdown. In late May/early June we launched and managed a quick response unit in Nabaa and Basta neighbourhoods to support refugees and migrant workers, 70 of whom had tested positive.
In south Beirut we have launched a new pilot program to train and assist families in the practice of shielding, a voluntary process that can provide additional protection to people at higher risk of contracting COVID-19. We are running awareness campaigns targeting frontline workers and others who have daily contact with the community to help them prevent potential transmission during their work.
MSF teams are supporting hospital staff in Zahle, east of Beirut, by managing a triage zone for children, composed of tents on the hospital grounds. We are also assisting with management of patients suspected to have COVID-19 in the inpatient ward and the paediatric intensive care unit. So far we have had one patient who has tested positive for COVID-19; the patient was able to be treated in the emergency room of the COVID-19 zone before being referred back home for self-isolation.
Our hospital in nearby Bar Elias, which usually handles elective surgery and wound care, is now prepared and on stand-by to host COVID-19 patients. This has entailed postponement of all surgery, but our wound care activities are able to continue.
In addition to adapting activities in the hospital services we run, MSF staff have also been in contact with several governmental hospitals (in Hermel, Saida, and Tripoli) to support them with logistics, medical supplies, and staff training.
We are engaging with community leaders and partner NGOs to spread awareness about general protective measures, especially in crowded refugee camps and informal tented settlements.