The lockdown will go into force Wednesday and end Monday authorities said, while the country’s information minister Manal Abdel-Samad said that all businesses will be closed, with the exception of those in the medical, industrial, and agricultural sectors.
“Unfortunately due to idleness in some areas and irresponsibility of some, this achievement is at risk of collapsing,” Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab said during a cabinet session in reference to Lebanon’s so far successful response to the spread of the virus.
Cash-strapped and already suffering from its worst economic crisis in decades, the nation had imposed a lockdown measure in mid-March but started easing it last week, and implemented a five-stage plan to reopen its economy.
Though it recorded its first case almost three months ago, Lebanon has managed to control the spread of the often deadly disease and has 870 confirmed cases with 26 dead for a population of about six million people.
But 120 new confirmed cases over the past few days have forced the government to review its plan to reopen the economy, currently in its third phase, which allows restaurants to open at 50 percent capacity and small business to work.
“Some of these cases are from the repatriated [Lebanese expats], but more worryingly, some of those cases are local,” the head of the Rafic Hariri University Hospital, Firass Abiad, told Middle East Eye. “The number of local cases have outnumbered those repatriated,” Abiad said.
Lebanese officials are currently meeting to potentially review their repatriation plans.
Abiad, along with other health experts in Lebanon, has been for weeks warning authorities of a potential second wave of COVID-19, as the state’s struggling and underfunded health services may have to bear a great burden and quickly be overwhelmed.
“Lebanon has not invested heavily in its public health [services],” Abiad said. “And now this is coming back to bite us.”