Coronavirus: Lebanon prepares for complete COVID-19 shutdown amid panic buying

Supermarket shelves are left empty in Lebanon as panic buyers rush to purchase goods after the country’s supreme defense council announced a complete lockdown for eleven days starting on Thursday. The lockdown is the first that includes the closure of supermarkets after the country recorded an unpreceded spread in coronavirus infections.

The state announced that the lockdown would include the closure of all banks, restaurants, private institutions, schools, universities, sports stadiums, houses of worship, along with the ban of all gatherings and events.

Lebanon has been experiencing a spike in COVID-19 cases and deaths in the past week. The country recorded a record 5,540 new cases and 17 deaths on Friday. The surge in cases is directly linked to the state and citizen’s failure in implementing precautionary measures during the holiday celebrations when the government eased the restrictions amid a worsening economic situation.

Supermarkets will only be able to operate through deliveries without providing in-store services.

The supreme defense council declared a state of health emergency in Lebanon. All private hospitals have been requested to open dedicated sections for coronavirus treatment.

The council announced that Beirut’s international airport would not be closed for commercial flights. Expatriates returning from Baghdad, Istanbul, Adana, and Addis Ababa must quarantine in hotels for 7 days. Travels from other regions need to undergo a PCR examination on arrival with a 72-hour mandatory quarantine.

The council added that general passenger traffic at Beirut’s International Airport would be reduced. Land crossing from Syria will completely be halted.

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