Lebanon shuts down to prevent coronavirus outbreak

By March 13, 2020

Lebanon (MNN) — Lebanon can’t afford another crisis, but that’s exactly what it’s facing with the coronavirus. The government went into prevention mode this week, shutting down as much of the country as possible and banning public gatherings.

Horizons International’s Pierre Houssney says the ban applies to ministry, too.

One photo widely circulated on Whatsapp shows a man who collapsed due to coronavirus symptoms.
(Photo obtained via Pierre Houssney)

“We’ve actually launched three new online initiatives for our staff to be involved in so that they can all be working at home instead of doing their field ministries while things are shut down,” he explains.

Coronavirus adds to Lebanon’s woes

Lebanon’s Prime Minister announced a travel ban on Iran, Italy, South Korea, and China yesterday. The coronavirus has claimed two lives in Lebanon so far, and hundreds of people are reportedly in quarantine. At least 37 percent of all cases have come from people who are suspected of having caught the virus abroad, Arab News reports.

With disasters on every side, the outlook is bleak. Lebanon’s economy is non-existent and Houssney says a majority of people live paycheck to paycheck. If people can’t work, their family won’t eat that week. More about Lebanon’s struggles here.

“When you have a situation like that and a worker [is] starting to show symptoms… he’s not going to self-quarantine because he needs to work,” Houssney explains.

“He’s taking public transportation because he can’t afford anything else [and therefore will spread the virus to others] … I don’t really think that it’s going to be containable in a place like Lebanon.”

Refugees and the poor stand to lose the most from this latest health crisis, he adds.

“We feel like we’re on the edge of a cliff here. People that are most vulnerable to the virus are the least likely to get medical care quickly, which is a recipe for the virus to spread even more.”

Footage of the impact is “going viral” on social media. “We had several videos and pictures coming around in [on] WhatsApp and Twitter showing people collapsing in the streets just being short of breath,” Houssney says.

Another image widely circulated on Whatsapp.
(Photo obtained via Pierre Houssney)

One video captured an incident near the grocery store in Houssney’s neighborhood. “Somebody [collapsed] right in the parking lot, and nobody wants to go near him [so] they call the Red Cross,” Houssney describes. “The Red Cross is getting more calls than they can handle.”

How to help

Desperate times call for God-sized action. Ask the Lord to intervene in Lebanon as only He can. Then, ask Him how He wants you to respond.

“I would just encourage people to give to an emergency fund that we’re establishing within Horizons so that we can put supplies in the hands of the churches here in Lebanon,” Houssney says.

With resources stretched so thin, “we’re finding that we need emergency funds in order to equip the churches to provide a basic level of assistance to people that are really in desperate situations.”

Help empower churches here. “Pray that the people of God would find ways to serve and to impact lives for eternity during this temporary crisis,” Houssney requests.



Header image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.

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