BEIRUT: From Thursday morning, the Lebanese people will be put to the test again, as a new 11-day lockout is imposed.
All projections predict a spike in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the country in the coming days, as hundreds of intensive care hospital beds dedicated to COVID-19 patients are full. Doctors have started monitoring patients inside ambulances and asking those who need oxygen to provide it at their own expense and to stay home.
According to statistics from the Lebanese Ministry of Health, there were 618 critical cases and 80,386 active cases as of Wednesday morning, while the number of recorded daily cases has not fallen below 4,300 for days. These infections occurred a week after social interactions during New Year’s celebrations.
A state of health emergency, a total lockdown and a curfew were imposed in the country between January 14 and 25, a period that can be extended, to deal with the most dangerous wave of COVID-19 whose Lebanon has witnessed since recording its first case last. February.
The Lebanese Armed Forces, as well as the state security apparatus, will ensure the implementation of the curfew across Lebanon, noting that this is the first time that the military has been invited to take part in the measures. aimed at limiting the spread of the virus.
Under the state of emergency, “security forces and judicial authorities have the right to strictly enforce laws that punish hospitals that refuse to treat urgent cases, including coronavirus cases, punish those who fail to comply not preventive measures, and issue tickets for those who violate these measures and contribute to the spread of the virus. “
The Supreme Defense Council has banned people from taking to the streets, with a few exceptions for medical staff, nurses, diplomats, travelers and employees of a number of institutions that require minimal administration. However, food stores and grocery stores will only operate through a delivery service.
Lebanon’s land and sea borders will be closed from Thursday, while the country’s airport will operate at its lowest operational capacity. Only transit passengers with tickets indicating the date of their passage will be allowed to enter Lebanon through land borders.
Health Minister Hamad Hassan announced on Wednesday that he was now in quarantine pending necessary tests after three of his office staff tested positive for COVID-19, joining 18,715 others who were forced to quarantine within the last 2 days.
It comes at a time when all eyes are on the government to implement the measures after being criticized for a general state of confusion in the previous weeks.
The country has also failed to form a government capable of leading efforts to save Lebanon from its various crises beyond the coronavirus.
Statistics from the Ministry of Health show that 45,445 positive COVID-19 cases were recorded in the first 12 days of January, while 53,559 cases were recorded during the entire month of December.
Firas Al-Abyad, director of the government university hospital in Hariri, said that “a large number of people in Lebanon have contracted the coronavirus. This requires … people to be admitted to hospitals, which are at their maximum capacity. What scares us is that we have reached the point that we did not want to reach.
He expects “the number of people in need of intensive care will double next week, which means we are heading for a major disaster.
Dr Abdul Rahman Al-Bizri, head of the Ministry of Health’s scientific committee on combating the coronavirus pandemic, told Arab News: “I hope the strict total lockdown will limit the spread of the virus. However, I’m afraid to go back to the way things were and open up the country completely without any action once the lockdown is over.
Al-Bizri is the person responsible for contacting Pfizer, on behalf of the Ministry of Health, to obtain their coronavirus vaccine.