Second case of coronavirus reported in Lebanon
- The Health Ministry announced on Wednesday afternoon a second case of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Lebanon. The second patient, like the first, was on the flight that arrived from Iran on February 20th. She was quarantined at the Rafic Hariri hospital on February 24th, as soon as symptoms appeared, and was confirmed as carrying coronavirus today.
- According to the Health Ministry, both patients are currently stable and receiving the required medical treatment at the hospital. Meanwhile, the ministry is following up with the friends and family of the second patient.
- Protesters demonstrated outside the Health Ministry in Beirut, denouncing the government's recklessness in dealing with people's health. They demanded a clear plan of action to prevent a Corona outbreak in Lebanon.
Lebanon pays 71 million dollars in Eurobonds interests
- Reuters stated on Wednesday that Lebanon paid 71 million dollars worth of coupons due on Eurobonds that mature in 2025 and 2030. This comes one day after he government appointed legal and financial advisers to consult on the widely anticipated debt restructuring.
Protests in banks continue against withholding depositor money
- Protesters demonstrated inside SGBL and Credit Libanais banks in Abdeh, decrying the illegal decision by the Association of Banks in Lebanon to reduce the limit on withdrawals to 50 USD monthly depending on the size of deposits.
Committees approve draft cannabis law to be voted on in parliament
- During a session on Wednesday, joint parliamentary Committees approved the draft law to organize the cultivation of cannabis for medical and manufacturing use. The bill will be discussed and voted on in the upcoming parliamentary session.
- The bill comes after a recommendation published in a 2018 report by global consulting company McKinsey. The report, which was about boosting Lebanon's economy, highlighted the financial benefits of exporting cannabis from Lebanon.
America designates entities linked to Martyrs Foundation as terrorist
- The U.S. Department of the Treasury (DoT) announced on Wednesday the designation of individuals and entities linked to "Hezballah's support network" as terrorists. The list included Atlas Holding Company, which is owned or controlled by the Martyrs Foundation, and 11 related companies. Companies on the list were in the pharmaceutical trade, gasoline, and tourism sectors. The DoT also added to its terror list one official in Atlas Holding and two officials in the Martyrs Foundation.
- In a statement published on the ministry's website, Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that: "Hezballah profits from the sale of goods vital to the Lebanese peoples' health and economy, such as pharmaceuticals and gasoline."
Middle East Airlines halts ticket sales from offices
- Sources from the Middle East Airlines (MEA) told the Daily Star on Wednesday that the airline will suspend all ticket sales from their offices over the next 3 months. Transactions will be limited to online payments by cards in foreign currency.
- The decision comes after a meeting including MEA Chairman Mohamed el Hout, Prime Minister Hassan Diab, Tourism Minister Ramzi Mcharafieh, and Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh on Tuesday. El Hout said the move was in response to demands by the Association of Travel and Tourist Agents in Lebanon, who complained about unfair competition as the airline sells tickets to agents in US currency while selling them to customers in Lebanese currency.
- El Hout added that MEA would review the decision in 3 months based on the data collected by then.
Journalists and employees of former Al Hayat demand payment of dues
- In a statement published on Wednesday, the journalists and employees previously employed by the now out-of business Al Hayat newspaper demanded that the owner of the newspaper and its board pay them their dues. They added that these dues have been documented in statements received by every employee, and that "Dar el Hayat" had previously sent out letters promising payments.
- Employees accused the newspaper of trying to split ranks by only paying 3 of them, adding that they will "head towards escalation, through movements and protests that will be announced in time," and that "they were addressing the syndicate and political committees for support."
Journalist Joe Maalouf charged with libel, slander, and defamation against Gebran Bassil
- The Court of Cassation approved a verdict by the Publications Court in Mount Lebanon, charging Journalist Joe Maalouf with libel, slander, and defamation against Leader of the Free Patriotic Movement Gebran Bassil. The Court of Cassation ordered Maalouf to pay the sum of 10 million LBP in retribution to harms inflicted upon MP Bassil.
- Maalouf published the court's decision on Twitter, commenting that the verdict was based on "caricatures and his portrayal of Bassil's estates-not lies or forgery as Bassil had tried to imply through his lawyer's statement, in order to polish his own image."
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