ABSTRACT • Background: The first cases of novel coronavirus (2019-ncov) infected patients occurred in Lebanon in February 2020 and March 2020. Rafic Hariri University Hospital was the first hospital in Lebanon that rapidly responded to this crisis through the effective use of scarce resources and the swift arrangement of departments as part of the contingency plan. It was able to mitigate the impact of the first COVID-19 wave in Lebanon through active management and proper preparedness. We analyzed data on the first 63 confirmed cases of COVID-19 to determine their epidemiological and clinical characteristics.
Methods: We collected information on demographic characteristics, exposure history, the severity of clinical presentation and clinical outcomes of cases. Results : Among the first 63 patients with confirmed COVID-19, the median age was 37 years, where 55% were males. On average, the time to virologic cure was estimated at 17.5 days, while the length of stay was estimated at 16 days. The pattern showed a limited community transmission, with most cases either with a positive travel history to endemic areas or from close contact with index cases. Most of the cases were mild (65.1%), and few patients had comorbidities. Four patients presented with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and two of them died. The fatality rate was 3.2%.
Conclusion : This study describes the first cases of COVID-19 over one month after diagnosing the first case in Lebanon. Most of the cases were mild to moderate, but isolated in the hospital to limit community spread. This strategy has probably helped the country in containing the disease so far. Describing the clinical presentation over a more extended period might provide a better assessment of the clinical patterns. Meanwhile, the most effective measure is to prevent the spread of disease by a combination of proper infection prevention and control measures, early detection and isolation of cases, active contact tracing, and the quarantine of contacts.
Keywords: COVID-19; RHUH; Lebanon; épidémiologie