The rise in Lebanon COVID cases has health officials worried for public health, as people in the country get ready to celebrate New Year. 2021 has not been the most uplifting or positive year for the country, and this last bitter note makes things plunge back into what the citizens and expats were hoping to get out of as the New Year begins in less than a few hours.

Tourists and ex-pats from all around the world consider Christmas to New Year the perfect holiday to spend with family and friends back at home where they can nurture themselves with their community and start the New Year with some positivity to take with them. Meanwhile, Lebanon COVID cases have surged enough to worry health officials even before the New Year parties have taken place.

4,537 cases of COVID were reported by the Lebanese health ministry on Thursday, rising from 3,153 cases just a day before. Even though more than half the population of the country is registered for vaccination, less than half have received both of their vaccine doses. Amid the rising Lebanon COVID cases, it is important to consider how many there must be of the newest Omicron variant which has the highest transfer rate of all of the virus’s mutations so far. If not controlled, this could take the country several steps back in addressing the pandemic in the region.

Health Minister Firass Abiad said in a statement to international news company Al Jazeera, “We still haven’t seen how it [Omicron] functions in a country that isn’t well-vaccinated like ours,” adding, “We have to assume the rate of hospitalisations might increase rapidly and we have to prepare according to that assumption.”

The jolting increase and the steady pace in the rise of Lebanon COVID cases could put intense pressure on hospitals as the New Year starts.