Lebanon reimposes lockdown amid coronavirus spike: ministry

Lebanon reimposes lockdown amid coronavirus spike: ministry
Lebanon has reimposed a lockdown after a spike in coronavirus cases.
2 min read
Lebanon has reimposed lockdown [Getty]

Lebanese authorities on Tuesday announced a new lockdown and an overnight curfew to rein in a spike in coronavirus infections.

The new measures will come into effect on Friday and last just over two weeks, the interior ministry said, adding that they would not affect the clean-up and aid effort following the devastating August 4 Beirut port blast.

A curfew will be imposed from 6:00 pm (1500 GMT) to 6:00 am.

Malls will be closed and restaurants restricted to delivery, with curtailed operating hours. Social gatherings will also be banned. 

The airport will operate normally and ministries will be staffed at half capacity.

Areas damaged by the massive explosion that hit Beirut on August 4 will also be exempt from the restrictions, as clean-up efforts continue across multiple neighbourhoods. 

Hundreds of tonnes of ammonium nitrate fertiliser exploded at Beirut port in the heart of the city, laying waste to surrounding neighbourhoods, killing 177 and wounding thousands more. 

Lebanon was already seeing rising cases of the novel coronavirus before the blast but has reported a string of record tallies in recent weeks.

Authorities reported another one-day record of 456 new infections on Monday, followed by a further 421 on Tuesday that brought the total to 9,758 including 107 deaths since the start of the outbreak in February.

A previously planned lockdown was scrapped in the wake of the explosion, which flattened neighbourhoods near the port and left thousands homeless.

Health Minister Hamad Hassan warned on Monday that hospitals were reaching maximum capacity to treat novel coronavirus patients after the Beirut blast overwhelmed health centres already stretched by the virus.

"Public and private hospitals in the capital in particular have a very limited capacity, whether in terms of beds in intensive care units or respirators," he said.

"We are on the brink, we don't have the luxury to take our time," he warned. 

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