Beirut (Associated Press)-Lebanese authorities began a nationwide shutdown for 11 days and imposed a round-the-clock curfew on Thursday to limit the uncontrolled spread of coronavirus infections after the holiday.
For the first time, residents are required to apply for a one-hour permit to allow them to leave home for an “emergency”, including going to a bakery, pharmacist, doctor, hospital or airport.
In the country’s nearly 6 million hospitals last week, the daily infection rate reached a record high of 5,440 cases. After the country’s hospitals ran out of beds, the authorities faced pressure to adopt a tougher approach.
The sharp increase in infections began in late December. With the tightening of lockdown measures by most governments in the world, Lebanon has relaxed its health measures during the holidays, allowing restaurants and nightclubs to reopen with almost no restrictions. An estimated 80,000 expatriates have flown back to the country to celebrate Christmas and New Year with their loved ones. Many of these expatriates skipped visits in the summer due to the devastating explosion in Beirut’s port on August 4.
“The holidays should be the time to lock in. The season of crowds, shopping and parties,”
Even before the outbreak of the coronavirus, Lebanon experienced an unprecedented economic and financial crisis. Lebanon’s national currency and banking sector closed down and kept depositors out. It has long been regarded as one of the best hospitals in the Middle East. With the scarcity of dollars, the hospital has been working hard to pay employees, keep equipment running and ensure necessary medical supplies.
With the surge, many hospitals have now reached their maximum capacity for coronavirus patients. Some people stopped elective surgery when their beds, oxygen cylinders, and ventilators ran out.
In addition, since the disastrous explosion in Beirut port on August 4, the country has not had a government since the old government resigned. At least three hospitals were destroyed.
A massive explosion caused by the explosion of poorly stored ammonium nitrate swept the city, killing more than 200 people and injuring thousands.
On Thursday, the police set up checkpoints across the country to check whether the driver’s license is on the road, and in some cases caused traffic jams. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the curfew has been the strictest. Even supermarkets were told for the first time to close their doors and only allow delivery. This decision triggered three days of chaotic panic buying as worried citizens emptied the shelves of supermarkets and grocery stores.
Lebanon only announced a nationwide blockade last week. But many people, including the Minister of Health and officials of the government committee, think it is too tolerant because it exempts many departments. In some parts of the country, business as usual has led to more calls for complete closures and curfews.