The Health Ministry has reported that almost half of Lebanon’s newly recorded coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours have been identified as the highly contagious Delta variant.

Out of 101 cases, 46 were identified as the Delta variant hailing in from 10 different countries, the Health Ministry declared. The total number of tests conducted is around 12,962, a low number compared to the usual daily number of tests since most laboratories do not operate on Sunday.

Overall, there was a 1.6 percent two-week average positivity rate, a 0.1 percent increase from last week’s figure. 

Last week, Head of Rafik Hariri University Hospital (RHUH) Dr. Firass Abiad warned that Lebanon may soon enter a new COVID-19 wave as citizens become negligent of social distancing and other safety measures. This was before Lebanon reported its first cases of the Delta variant that same day, as passengers coming from abroad tested positive.

The variant was first detected in India in October 2020, and has since then been found in around 98 countries worldwide. It has caused a surge in infections in spite of vaccination levels in certain countries, such as the UK, as it is twice as contagious as the original coronavirus strain.

Currently, Lebanon has amassed a total of 545, 671 COVID-19 cases and 7,863 deaths since the country detected its first case in February 2020.

Vaccines continue to prove themselves massively effective against hospitalization and death from the Delta variant, and as such, citizens and healthcare professionals alike are encouraging each other to get vaccinated in light of the looming wave of infections.

Residents between the ages of 30-49 are invited to walk-in appointments for the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab, while those aged 50 and above are welcome to walk-in appointments for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Over the past two weeks, the National Vaccination Committee has also invited individuals between the ages of 16 and 30, registered before February 14, to obtain the Pfizer-BioNTech jab.

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Lynn is a Beirut-based journalist. She is a reporter and editor for Beirut Today, actively contributing since 2018 through articles on politics, economics, lifestyle, fashion, and more.