The beleaguered nation of Lebanon must be put into lockdown for two weeks because of the huge spike in the number of coronavirus infections in the country, according to a statement from the caretaker health minister on Monday.
After half of the city of Beirut was flattened or severely damaged from the explosion resulting from the government’s improper storage of ammonium nitrate, great numbers of the public gathered together in the streets to help one another in the aftermath. Later, large demonstrations involving thousands clogged the streets as the populace called for the resignation of the government.
Now it appears the embattled people of Lebanon have to face yet another scourge — a steep rise in the number of coronavirus infections nationwide.
On Sunday, August 16, the country notched a record total of 439 new coronavirus infections and six new deaths in those who suffered from the virus in the space of just 24 hours.
According to a report by the Associated Press, Hamad Hassan, the interim health minister, addressed the nation via the Voice of Lebanon radio station, saying “We declare today a state of general alert and we need a brave decision to close (the country) for two weeks.”
He then added “We are all facing a real challenge and the numbers that were recorded in the last period are shocking. The matter requires decisive measures,” he said, noting that all of the intensive care beds at both state and private hospitals were now occupied and there is no more room for new patients suffering from any other maladies.
Speaking with the Reuters news agency, the interim health minister said that the authorities are not planning to close the country’s airport at this point because the spike in coronavirus cases has been of domestic origin.
“The real danger is the spread within society,” he explained to reporters. “Everyone must be on high alert and take the strictest prevention measures.”
Even before the blast, Lebanon was experiencing a steep rise in coronavirus diagnoses nationwide. Now the tiny nation must contend with not only the 178 fatalities from the August 4 explosion but the additional deaths from the viral scourge.
The WHO stated last week that a total of 55 medical centers of all types in the Lebanese capital were knocked out of service as a result of the blast. The more than 6,000 individuals who were wounded were often treated in hallways or even outdoors afterward.
The total number of coronavirus cases in Lebanon 8,881 cases, with 103 deaths occurring since February, the beginning of the pandemic in the country, according to the health ministry.