Reports indicate that Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport (BEY) will reopen to commercial passenger flights on Monday, June 8, as part of the fifth phase of Lebanon's economic reopening. Air France announced on Tuesday, May 20, that it will resume flights from BEY on Friday, June 12. According to international media reports, Middle East Airlines (MEA), Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Turkish Airlines are also preparing to resume operations there, with MEA planning on resuming flights on June 8. Lebanon's borders, ports, and airports are currently closed to commercial traffic as a measure to limit the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced the start of the reopening of the Lebanese economy on Monday, May 18, following a strict four-day lockdown due to a rise in COVID-19 cases. The country had previously started reopening some businesses in late April. The prime minister also reiterated the need to adhere to the guidelines in place.
A nationwide curfew remains in effect between 19:00 and 05:00 (local time). The government previously announced on Tuesday, May 5, that lockdown measures will be extended until Sunday, May 24. Authorities have also suspended most court sessions until May 24, as lawyers and judges are being tested for COVID-19. Schools will resume from Thursday, May 28, with health measures in place to safeguard the welfare of pupils. Mosques have reopened 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 worshipers not exceeding 30 percent of the capacity of the mosque or church. Additionally, a nationwide travel ban continues to be in effect.
As of Thursday, May 21, authorities have confirmed 1024 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 COVID-19 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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