The Lebanese government announced on Sunday, May 10, that the night curfew that was imposed due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic will be extended. The curfew will be starting two hours earlier than previously, coming into effect between 19:00 and 05:00 (local time). While the authorities have prolonged curfew hours, a time-frame for when the restriction may be lifted has not been reported. The decision came following a rise in the rate of infections across the country. The Health Minister Hamad Hassan has also warned that authorities may impose a nationwide 48-hour lockdown to allow health authorities "to conduct a field survey in the areas where cases were found." Authorities have also suspended most court sessions until Sunday, May 24, as lawyers and judges are due to be tested for COVID-19.
On Friday, May 8, the Lebanese Minister of Education, Tarek Al-Majzoub, stated that schools will reopen from Thursday, May 28. The new academic year will end in July, with health measures in place to safeguard the welfare of pupils. This announcement coincides with the reopening of Lebanese mosques for Friday prayers, as well as churches for Sunday mass as of May 8. The reopening of places of worship is contingent on the number of worshippers not exceeding 30 percent of the capacity of the mosque or church.
This announcement comes after Lebanese authorities extended existing lockdown measures on Tuesday, May 5. Additional measures were also imposed, including a nationwide travel ban. Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport (BEY) remains closed, along with all ports and land borders.
As of Monday, May 11, authorities have confirmed 845 cases of COVID-19 in the country and 26 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
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