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The New Arab Staff

Lebanon mulls fifth lockdown as Covid-19 cases rise

Figures from the health ministry brought Lebanon's total tally since February to 29,987 cases [AFP]

Date of publication: 22 September, 2020

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Figures from the health ministry brought Lebanon's total tally since February to 29,987 Covid-19 cases, including 307 deaths.

Lebanon on Monday confirmed over 680 new coronavirus cases and ten further deaths from the disease in 24 hours, as officials mulled imposing a fifth lockdown to bring the outbreak back under control.

Figures from the health ministry brought Lebanon's total tally since February to 29,987 Covid-19 cases, including 307 deaths.

Outgoing Health Minister Hamad Hassan met on Monday with officials to discuss a proposal for a full two-week lockdown. In a televised conference after the meeting, Hassan said another lockdown would allow authorities to track and trace cases.

A potential lockdown, which would be the fifth since the outbreak, would also ease pressure on hospitals, which have been overwhelmed by Covid-19 admissions, Hassan added.

Cases have spiked in the aftermath of a massive explosion at the Beirut port on 4 August that killed more than 190 people and overwhelmed the capital's health services with thousands of wounded.

Read also: More than 200 virus cases at Lebanon's biggest prison: doctor

Authorities on 21 August declared a lockdown in all parts of the country except those ravaged by the explosion, as well as a night-time curfew.

But they eased the restrictions a week later following protests from the private sector, already reeling from the country's worst economic downturn in decades. 

The head of a major public hospital battling Covid-19, Firass Abiad, expressed his alarm at the rising rates over the weekend. 

"I couldn't sleep last night. The corona numbers were shocking," he wrote on Twitter.

Despite an expected increase in cases, "the sharp rise in deaths, including that of an 18-year-old boy, was tough news," he said.

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