Young women wearing protective masks walk out of the Rafik Hariri University Hospital in Beirut on Friday, where a woman is treated for coronavirus. AFP
Health Minister Hamad Hassan told a news conference the patient was taken directly to isolation from a plane arriving from the Iranian city of Qom on Thursday after exhibiting symptoms on the aircraft.
Girls wearing face masks take a selfie with outside Rafik Hariri hospital in Beirut. AFP
Two more people from the flight were suspected of carrying the virus on Friday and will be transferred to the same Beirut hospital for quarantine, Hassan said.
All other passengers were asked to stay isolated in their homes for 14 days, he said. Hassan said that the plane had around 150 passengers and that if any showed symptoms later, they would be tested and quarantined.
The plane was a Mahan Air flight that landed around 7:30pm on Thursday. There was no decision so far to suspend flights coming from Tehran, a source at Beirut airport said.
The window of opportunity to contain wider worldwide spread of the epidemic of the new coronavirus disease is closing, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned on Friday.
A coronavirus outbreak in Iran, which has so far seen four people die, began in the city of Qom, authorities in Iran said.
An Iranian health ministry official said the likely source was Chinese workers in Qom who had recently travelled to China, where the epidemic originated.
Hassan said all precautions in line with WHO advice were being taken and offered Lebanese a hotline to call if they experienced or witnessed symptoms.
"There is no need for excessive panic at this time...The patient is in a good state," said Hassan.
Authorities are following up on arrivals to Lebanon from the past 10 days for potential cases, he said.
"The scenario of the coronavirus reaching multiple countries, if not all countries around the world, is something we have been looking at and warning against since quite a while."
The Minister of State for Media Affairs Amjad Adayleh said the decision was part of "preemptive measures... following the rise in cases of coronavirus in South Korea, Iran" and China.
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