Lebanon News

Minister to seek 2-day full lockdown if rise in cases persists

A nurse tends to a patient suffering from coronavirus disease in an isolated intensive care unit at the Rafik Hariri public hospital in Beirut on April 7, 2020. AFP/JOSEPH EID

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Health Minister Hamad Hassan will seek Cabinet’s approval for a total country lockdown for 48 hours if coronavirus infections continue to increase, a Health Ministry source told The Daily Star Saturday.

“[Coronavirus] has started to quickly spread again,” the source said.

If implemented, the 48-hour lockdown will aim to conduct field searches and mass testing of areas where significant cases have been found, including Metn and Akkar, to better detect outbreak clusters in the country.

“People won’t be permitted to go on the street except for those in the medical sector,” the source said.

This news comes as an increase of coronavirus infections has been registered over the last few days following a brief lull in numbers.

Lebanon registered 18 new coronavirus infections Saturday, bringing the total number of cases in the country up to 814.

Of these, 11 were detected among the local population, and two were from recently repatriated citizens, the Health Ministry reported.

Later in the day, five members of the Lebanese Army serving at the Military Court were confirmed infected, a Health Ministry source told The Daily Star.

However, an Army source told The Daily Star that the number of infected military personnel was closer to 13, if not more.

There have been a total of 26 deaths in the country due to the disease and 234 recoveries.

New infections were found among 1,317 administered PCR tests over the last 24 hours. Fifteen of these were given to returned expatriates.

While numbers of reported local infections have remained relatively low, there has been an uptick in overall infections over the last few days. Lebanon registered 12 new infections Friday, six of which were detected among the local population and six among expatriates.

No coronavirus cases were found among the local population Monday or Tuesday. However, with the expatriate infections, Thursday’s numbers – a total of 34 cases – were the highest recorded since April 10.

This news comes after Cabinet extended the general mobilization for the fourth time by another two weeks until May 24 while allowing a gradual and cautious return to work for many sectors including restaurants and hair salons.





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