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Beirut Airport to Remain Closed until April 12 as Algeria Expands Curfew

Beirut Airport to Remain Closed until April 12 as Algeria Expands Curfew

Friday, 27 March, 2020 - 11:30
A worker wearing a protective suit sprays disinfectant to sanitize streets in the southern village of Houla, Lebanon March 22, 2020. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat

Lebanon will keep Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport closed for both private and commercial passenger flights until Apr. 12, the transport ministry said on Friday, extending a shutdown that began this month due to the coronavirus outbreak.


Lebanon has recorded 391 cases of the coronavirus and seven deaths. It registered 23 cases on Friday. The latest casualty was a man in his 80s who was suffering from a chronic illness, reported the National News Agency.


The airport will remain open only for flights for the military, air ambulance service, cargo, diplomatic delegations, international organizations and oil and gas drilling workers.


Lebanon also extended its national lockdown by two weeks to April 12 on Thursday and announced stricter measures, banning people from leaving their homes and shutting nearly all businesses.


The country has already been hit by a crippling financial crisis, and health officials have warned that the healthcare system is ill-equipped to confront a surge in cases.


In the Palestinian territories, the government announced Friday that seven virus cases were registered in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.


Health ministry spokesman Ibrahim Melhem said five cases were reported in the village of Bidu and two in Bethlehem, bringing the total cases in the Palestinian territories to 73. The ministry reported one death and 17 recoveries.


Officials said the Palestinian Authority is suffering from a shortage of coronavirus test kits.


The PA declared on Sunday a 14-day curfew in the West Bank in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus.


Iraq orders military to Sadr City


Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, in his capacity as commander of the armed forces, ordered on Friday the deployment of military troops to Baghdad’s Sadr City to enforce a curfew in the area.


Iraq reported 382 virus cases, 36 deaths and 105 recoveries as the infection spread throughout the country, including the Kurdistan region.


The military has locked down areas where the virus has been detected and dispatched additional troops to the Najaf province to enforce the curfew.


The cabinet extended on Thursday the lockdown until April 11, as religious figures appealed to the public to stay home.


Algeria expands curfew


Algeria, meanwhile, announced it will impose a night curfew in nine more provinces to limit the spread of the coronavirus, the prime minister's office said on Friday.


Earlier this week the government imposed a night curfew in the capital and a full lockdown in the neighboring province of Blida.


The country has so far reported 367 cases of the illness, with 25 deaths. Most cases have been in Blida, south of Algiers.


The curfew extension, to be enforced from 7 pm to 7 am will include central, eastern and western provinces where coronavirus cases have been rising.


There have been no reported effects on the country's oil and gas production.


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