BEIRUT: Lebanon’s total number of coronavirus infections rose to 391, as two new deaths and 23 cases were registered by the Health Ministry Friday, on the first day of intensified curfew measures across the country.
The coronavirus, which was first confirmed in Lebanon on Feb. 21, has claimed the lives of eight people so far. The Health Ministry said that the most recent patient who died suffered from chronic illness.
Declaring that Lebanon is in “extreme danger” due to the spread of coronavirus, the Cabinet Thursday approved a two-week extension of the nationwide lockdown while also ordering the general closure of institutions and supermarkets from 7 p.m. until 5 a.m. with a few exceptions.
The Internal Security Forces confirmed Friday in a statement that it would be implementing a curfew on citizens from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. in accordance with the government’s lockdown extension.
The Lebanese Army also announced that start Friday evening, it would start taking measures to ensure that the curfew is implemented and that the shops and businesses included by the curfew, commit to the working hours.
Both the ISF and Army placed checkpoints in order to ensure citizens' adherence to the decision.
As part of the nationwide lockdown, Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut announced Friday it would also extend a suspension of all commercial and private flights until April 12.
Director General of Civil Aviation Fadi al-Hassan issued a circular stating that the extension was in accordance with Cabinet’s decision Thursday to extend the state of “general mobilization” for another two weeks in order to curb the coronavirus outbreak.
The circular states that “all airlines operating at Rafik Hariri International Airport are to extend the suspension of all commercial and private flights to and from the airport ... until Sunday, April 12.”
Exceptions include military aircraft, air ambulances, planes that cross Lebanese airspace, cargo planes, aircraft transporting accredited diplomatic missions in Lebanon, members of international organizations and UNIFIL forces.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab Friday afternoon visited Rafik Hariri University Hospital where he confirmed that Lebanese citizens abroad hoping to return would have to wait until after the general mobilization period.
“Today we cannot make an exception before the end of the general mobilization period,” Diab said in a news conference at the hospital.
The prime minister said that it was both for the protection of those who wish to return and to curb the spread of the epidemic in the country.
“If one passenger on the plane returning to Lebanon is infected with coronavirus, they could transmit it to numerous, if not all, passengers,” he said. “We are looking into repatriation possibilities, and we will have a clearer idea before April 12.”