Lebanese authorities announced on Friday, October 2, that lockdown restrictions will be implemented in 111 villages and towns nationwide for eight days from Sunday, October 4, following a series of record daily infection rates of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Several localities in Aakkar, Batroun, Zgharta, Kesrouan, Metn, Mount Lebanon, Bekaa, and Sidon were included in the list. From 06:00 (local time) on Sunday until 06:00 on Monday, October 12, stay at home orders will be implemented in these locations. Residents will only be permitted to leave their homes for essential services, and when doing so they will be required to wear a face mask. Authorities announced that all state and private institutions and places of worship will close, and all social events and gatherings will be canceled. Health centers and delivery services will reportedly be exempt.
Earlier this week, authorities announced a new zonal system they will introduce going forward to assist in containing COVID-19, after the number of cases surpassed 40,000 on Thursday, October 1. The zonal system is a traffic light system; in red areas where there is a "high risk", or more than eight cases per 100,000 people over 14 days, residents will be required to stay at home and local lockdowns will be implemented.
A nationwide curfew between 01:00-06:00 remains in place. Authorities previously began easing restrictions in September. Businesses, restaurants, cafes, malls markets, and gyms have been permitted to operate at a 50 percent capacity. Additionally, social events halls, public markets, public parks, theaters, nightclubs, pubs, and cinemas have been allowed to reopen. Wedding ceremonies are permitted with limitations of a 50 percent capacity at the venue. Vehicular movement restrictions were also lifted and public transportation resumed nationwide, following social-distancing measures and limits on passengers. Social distancing regulations should continue to be observed and face masks should be worn in public areas.
Travelers at Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport (BEY) are required to provide a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test prior to entering the country. Those arriving from countries with high infection rates may be required to take a second PCR test and will be required to quarantine for 24-48 hours in designated hotels until test results are received. Lebanese officials extended a general mobilization order and a national health state of emergency until December 31. The order allows the government to implement preventive measures to help counter the disease. Demonstrations and gatherings of any type remain banned.
As of Friday, there have been 40,882 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 374 associated fatalities in Lebanon. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected.
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). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell, or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
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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