Lebanon puts 111 towns in lockdown to stop COVID-19 spread

Lebanon has witnessed a sharp increase of cases in recent weeks with more than 40,000 cases registered since February.

Health workers and members of internal security forces wearing face masks stand inside Beirut international airport
On Thursday, 1,248 cases were reported over 24 hours as well as seven deaths, according to Lebanon’s Health Ministry [File: Aziz Taher/Reuters]

More than 100 towns and villages across Lebanon have been ordered into a lockdown after hundreds of people tested positive for the coronavirus in recent days as well as a shortage of hospital beds.

Outgoing Minister of Interior Mohammed Fahmi said in a statement on Friday the complete lockdown of 111 towns and villages will go into effect from Sunday morning and last until October 12.

Lebanon has witnessed a sharp increase in cases in recent weeks with more than 40,000 cases registered since February in the country of five million. The country has reported coronavirus-related 374 deaths so far.

On Thursday, 1,248 new cases and seven deaths were reported in a 24-hour period, according to Lebanon’s Health Ministry.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported this week the occupancy rate of beds in intensive care units dedicated to coronavirus cases has reached 84 percent.

Fahmi’s order listed the names of towns and villages in northern, southern, central and eastern Lebanon as well as some suburbs of the capital, Beirut, saying all state and private institutions will be closed during the period.

It added that all social events and gatherings will be cancelled and the ministry will coordinate with local religious officials over the closure of places of worship and religious events.

The minister said a nationwide curfew from 1am local time until sunrise remains in force.

Lebanon, which is in a severe financial and economic crisis, was among the most successful countries in containing the virus in its early months.

Cases began increasing after the country’s only international airport reopened in early July and a lockdown was eased.

The figures shot up dramatically following a devastating explosion in Beirut on August 4 that killed 195 people and wounded more than 6,000.

Medical officials had warned of the dangers of crowding at hospitals in the aftermath of the explosion, at funerals, or as people searched through the rubble.

Source: AP