Lebanon to impose new lockdown despite economic cost

New Delhi (NVI): Lebanon’s government will impose a two-week lockdown from Saturday to stem a resurgence of Covid-19, even though it will exacerbate a deep economic crisis.

Caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab said a “stage of extreme danger” had been reached, with hospitals unable to admit patients in a critical condition.

In a televised address on Tuesday, Diab explained that the current restrictions were not working and that he had no other choice but to impose a full nationwide lockdown because of the risk of Lebanon’s fragile health system being overwhelmed.

“Today, we have reached the red line in the number of infections, and we have reached the stage of extreme danger in light of the inability of government and private hospitals to receive critical cases,” he said.

Diab added that the lockdown would start this weekend and continue until November 29.

However, the health sector and vital industries would be exempted, he added, without providing details.

He also ruled out closing the country’s only international airport, which he did during Lebanon’s first lockdown earlier this year.

Notably, restrictions in place between March and June helped limit the initial outbreak.

But the number of new infections soared after the devastating explosion in the capital Beirut in August.

The health ministry has reported 95,355 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 732 associated deaths since the start of the pandemic.

In the past month 42,000 people have been infected and 277 have died, despite local lockdowns in dozens of towns and villages, night-time curfews across the country, and the closure of all bars and nightclubs.