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Lebanon: Call For Full COVID-19 Lockdown Met With Rejection

Lebanon: Call For Full COVID-19 Lockdown Met With Rejection

Tuesday, 22 September, 2020 - 09:15
Health workers take swab samples from passengers who arrived at Beirut international airport on its re-opening day following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Beirut, Lebanon July 1, 2020. REUTERS/Aziz Taher

Lebanon registered an unprecedented increase in Covid-19 infections, as the daily number of cases exceeded 1,000 for the first time since the outbreak of the virus in February.

The situation prompted the minister of Health in the caretaker government, Hamad Hassan, to call for a complete lockdown for two weeks to alleviate pressure on the health sector.

However, the minister’s proposal was not favored by the National Committee for Covid-19 (NCC), which said that several measures could be applied before full closure. Those include closing towns that register a high number of Covid-19 cases and imposing fines on those who do not comply with the sanitary measures.

Speaking during a news conference, Hassan stressed that a complete lockdown “seems necessary to maintain the process of virus tracking and traceability and to allow public and private hospitals to accommodate cases in light of the high death rate recorded in the past two weeks.”

While he emphasized the need for private hospitals to open “special departments for Covid-19, regardless of the profit and loss criteria,” Hassan pointed out that government hospitals in the north, Beirut and the south were facing the biggest challenge given the large number of infections recorded in these areas.

Regarding the decision to open schools at the end of September, Hassan said the decision went to the Minister of Education, pointing to “health recommendations related to postponing the start of the academic year.”

In this context, Minister of Education in the caretaker government, Tarek Al-Majzoub, said that if the spread of the virus required distance learning, Lebanon would follow this approach.

“If the health situation improves, we will proceed with the blended learning,” he added.

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