On Friday, May 22, Lebanese authorities extended an ongoing lockdown until Sunday, June 7, due to an increase in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections. As part of the lockdown, 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. A nationwide curfew remains in effect between 19:00 and 05:00 (local time), large gatherings are forbidden, and vehicles should limit occupancy to one-third of capacity. Separately on Friday, May 22, Information Minister Manal Abdel-Samad announced that the reopening of Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport (BEY) remains unclear, even though the airport was previously expected to open to commercial passenger flights from Monday, June 8.
Following the announcement of the lockdown extension, authorities placed two towns under additional restrictions due to localized COVID-19 outbreaks. The town of Majdal Anjar (Bekaa region) was placed under strict measures, with all entrances to the town cordoned off and no access permitted except for medics, pharmacists and those delivering essential goods and services. The decision was taken after 32 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the town. Meanwhile, a state of emergency was also declared in Mazboud (Mount Lebanon), after 15 new cases were reported. The town is now isolated to limit the further spread of the disease. Further measures are likely to be taken throughout Lebanon as new outbreaks emerge.
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 in a five-stage plan to resume economic activity. The prime minister also reiterated the need to adhere to the guidelines in place.
As of Sunday, May 24, authorities have confirmed 1097 cases of COVID-19 nationwide 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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