The Lebanese government decided to impose a round-the-clock curfew for 11 days, given the inability of hospitals to absorb the increasing number of people infected with the Coronavirus.
The new measures will prevent citizens from leaving their homes starting next Thursday at 3 am, with few exceptions. They cannot go out shopping, but rather rely on delivery services.
The authorities say the country’s health system is in danger of collapse if drastic measures are not taken.
Compared to other countries, Lebanon has so far managed to deal well with the Coronavirus.
Despite the increasing number of new infections, the authorities decided to ease restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus by the New Year celebrations in order to revive the ailing economy. Bars and cabarets, closed for months, were allowed to reopen.
Health officials said easing prevention restrictions had led to record numbers of new infections.
Lebanon, with a population of 6 million, has recorded more than 222,000 cases of Coronavirus and 1629 deaths since the virus spread.
But in the last week alone, the authorities recorded 30,250 new infections, and 117 people died of Covid 19, according to data calculated by John Hopkins University.
President Michel Aoun said on Monday at a meeting of the Supreme Defense Council: “The tragedy that we see at the gates of hospitals requires radical measures so that we can mitigate the catastrophic consequences of the outbreak of the Corona epidemic.”
The head of the caretaker government, Hassan Diab, held those who violate the preventive measures responsible for the high number of injuries, saying: “This recklessness has brought us to a very difficult situation, and despite that, there are those who refuse to abide by the measures we have taken.”
But he admitted that implementing these measures “would not be at the level of risk of the virus.”
The Supreme Defense Council said in a statement that workers in the health, food and basic professions are the only ones allowed to go outside during the curfew, which is scheduled until January 24, and may be extended.
Bakeries and food outlets remain open, but only for delivery. Rumors of it being shut down have prompted an unprecedented demand for purchases.
It was also decided to close the land and sea borders, for all travelers except those holding an acceptable transit visa. Passengers arriving by air from Baghdad, Istanbul, Adana, Cairo and Addis Ababa will be subject to a seven-day quarantine in a hotel, and the Corona virus will be tested twice.
The charity Save the Children warned that the curfew would exacerbate the suffering of vulnerable families, and urged the government to provide adequate social assistance to them.
“Half of the population is unable to buy enough food for the time the markets are closed. We fear hunger for them, and the markets may not have the capacity to deliver orders,” said the organization’s director in Lebanon, Jessica Moorehead.
The local currency also lost 80 percent of its value against the dollar last year, which affected the country’s ability to import medical equipment.
Lebanon is expected to receive the first shipment of the Pfizer-Bionic vaccine against Covid 19 in mid-February /Next February.
The government required enough to vaccinate 15 percent of the population. She said she was seeking to obtain a quantity of vaccines for another 20 percent through the World Health Organization.