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Lebanon Closes Border Crossings with Syria over Coronavirus Concerns

Lebanon Closes Border Crossings with Syria over Coronavirus Concerns

Saturday, 14 March, 2020 - 08:45
Lebanon registered until Friday 77 confirmed cases of coronavirus. NNA

The Lebanese government decided on Friday to close all border crossings with Syria for a week starting next Monday as part of preventive measures to face the coronavirus outbreak.

The Lebanese Health Ministry said that the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases is 77, including those diagnosed at the Rafic Hariri University Hospital, and other university hospitals.

Sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Lebanese authorities informed Syria about a decision to close border crossings as part of a series of measures taken in the past week to fight the virus.

“The decision would go into effect starting Monday to allow the Lebanese living abroad to travel to Lebanon by land,” the sources said.

Lebanon has stopped all flights between Italy, South Korea, Iran and China for a week.

It banned the entry of passengers from France, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Germany, Spain and the UK.

The source confirmed that tight measures were also imposed on illegal border crossings with Syria after the military and security forces set up earth mounds and observation towers.

Lebanese officials on Friday held meetings with representatives of international NGOs concerned with the Syrian refugees to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak at the overcrowded camps.

“Following talks, they agreed to quickly establish two field hospitals in the Bekaa valley and the north where Syrian refugees have a high presence,” the sources added.

Similar talks have been held with Palestinian officials to discuss preventive measures at the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in south Lebanon.

“The government’s measures to prevent the outbreak of coronavirus across Lebanon is considered an unofficial state of emergency,” thee sources explained.

Several parties have criticized the government for not announcing a nationwide state of emergency to limit the spread of the virus despite the rising number of infections.

Asharq Al-Awsat learned that international companies have informed their employees to work from home.

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