Lebanon’s Health Minister Hamad Hasan urged a total lockdown of the country as the number of daily coronavirus infections hit record highs on both Friday and Saturday, calling for two weeks of travel restrictions to be introduced “before it’s too late.”
“I call for … all calculations and economic caveats to be dropped, and for there to be a general closure for a period of two weeks to stop the spread,” Hasan told local newspaper Addiyar in comments published Saturday night.
A total of 28,297 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Lebanon since February, with a record 779 new cases detected Saturday. The previous high was set a day earlier, with 750 new cases found on Friday.
A total of 10,999 PCR tests came back positive between Sept. 1-19, the vast majority of which were from among the resident population. The test positivity rate among the local population during that period stood at 7.4 percent.
Hasan told Addiyar that the rise in the number of cases was due to a relaxation of coronavirus containment measures, recklessness and a lack of a feeling of responsibility at the individual and societal level toward fighting the virus. He also said that not all state and private institutions had put in place the necessary preventive measures.
A rise in the number of coronavirus infections followed the reopening of the airport at the start of July, but a much larger surge came after the Aug. 4 port explosion.
Several hospitals treating COVID-19 patients were damaged in the blast, and social distancing measures were largely put aside as tens of thousands of volunteers came together in the cleanup and rescue effort.