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Lebanon: Spike in Virus Cases Exhausts Health Care Sector

Lebanon: Spike in Virus Cases Exhausts Health Care Sector

Wednesday, 13 January, 2021 - 08:30
A customer pushes her trolley next to near empty shelves after people hoarded food, in Beirut, Lebanon, January 11, 2021. Reuters

Lebanon is set to go under a 24-hour curfew for 11 days from Thursday amid a dramatic surge in COVID-19 infections and fears that the worse is yet to come.


The surge in new cases is among the steepest in the world.


Under the new measures, non-essential workers will not be allowed out of the house and supermarkets will only operate delivery services.


This has prompted fears of food shortages as such services are not readily available in impoverished and remote regions.


It has also caused panic buying with people lining up in front of grocery shops and bakeries to store goods.


Lebanon had only just announced a nationwide lockdown last week. But many, including the health minister and officials on a government committee, considered it to be too lenient because it exempted many sectors.


“Since the spread of the pandemic in Lebanon, the ruling class … has committed a crime by implementing random policies amid lack of planning,” Doctor and ex-MP Ismail Sukkarieh said.


He expected a “coronavirus massacre” in the coming days as hospitals run out of beds.


Ahead of Christmas and New Year, the government had relaxed measures with hopes to bolster the country's crumbling economy, allowing bars and nightclubs to open for the first time in months.


The reckless measures sparked a hike in the number of cases and for the first time, citizens were seen waiting in front of hospitals.


A group of activists gathered Tuesday outside the Health Ministry, demanding to know the fate of field hospitals that were offered by several countries following the Aug. 4 Beirut port explosion.

The activists asked the government to equip the hospitals for COVID-19 patients.


On Tuesday, the Health Ministry announced 4,557 new coronavirus infections, which raises the cumulative number to 226,948 cases. It said 32 deaths have been recorded over the past 24 hours.


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