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Covid-19: Lebanon Expected to Head into Total Lockdown Soon

Lebanon Fashion Designers June 2020 issue

Architect Tessa Sakhi explores Tripoli, Lebanon. Photographed by Sam Rawadi for Vogue Arabia June 2020

Lebanon is expected to head into a total country-wide lockdown starting this weekend (November 14), due to the continuously increasing pressures from the coronavirus pandemic. The country’s health sector is facing tremendous challenges as a result of the soaring number of Covid-19 cases; with concerns that the spread of the virus is becoming rife among Lebanon‘s medical professionals. The Supreme Defense Council is set to meet today, November 10, to take decisive action about the impending lockdown, in light of complaints received from hospitals and doctors across the country, who have expressed major concern that their resources have been depleting.

The number of coronavirus cases in the country has rapidly increased in recent weeks, with daily infection rates some times exceeding 2,000 people. Cases are now at an all-time high, with over 13,000 people recorded to have the virus in just the first week of November, while the total number of cases in October hit over 42,000, marking the highest number recorded since the outbreak was first detected in Lebanon, in February earlier this year.

“Lebanon’s continued abandonment of taking strict measures to contain the spread of coronavirus will mean that no one will remain to treat those infected with the virus in hospitals,” said Sharaf Abu Sharf, head of the Doctors’ Syndicate. Sharf explained that doctors and medical professionals were now at a significant risk of contracting the virus, with 17 doctors currently receiving treatments in intensive care units, whereas three doctors had died and another 100 doctors are under quarantine at home.

“Lebanon will enter a new phase of complete lockdown,” said Dr Firas Al-Abyad, director of Hariri Governmental Hospital, which specializes in coronavirus cases. “Without a complete lockdown, the economic situation will worsen in light of the spread of the virus.”

In a news conference on Monday, health minister Hamad Hassan explained that a full country-wide lockdown will provide an opportunity for the health sector to “gather its strength and raise the readiness that was long overdue.”

However, while a complete lockdown has not yet been confirmed, Dr Abdul Rahman Bizri, a member of the emergency committee on coronavirus and an infectious disease specialist, noted that the general trend for today’s Supreme Defense Council meeting was to initiative lockdown plans. “We do not know the duration or procedures that will accompany the closure, and the goal is to give the medical and nursing staff a chance to catch a breath,” he told Arab News, before adding, “there are many reasons for the state’s inability to confront the virus in its second wave and not being prepared for it. The hospital sector is 80 percent private and 20 percent public.”

The news of another lockdown has caused panic among many individuals in Lebanon, with concerns raised at how the country’s severe economic and financial crisis will be further affected by another lockdown. The city of Beirut is still recovering from the impacts of the port explosion on August 4.

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