Lebanon begins new lockdown amid surge in coronavirus cases

BEIRUT, LEBANON (AP) — Lebanon began a 25-day nationwide lockdown yesterday to limit the spread of the coronavirus as infections hit a new record in the tiny Mediterranean nation and patients overwhelm the health care sector.

The lockdown is the third in Lebanon since the first case was reported in late February.

It closes most businesses and limits traffic by imposing an odd and even licence plate rule on alternating days.

It also reduces the number of flights at the country’s only international airport.

As of yesterday, a daily 6pm to 5am curfew takes effect that will last until February 1.

A police officer issues fines to owners of vehicles that violate the odd and even licence plate rule on alternating days. PHOTO: AP

On Wednesday, Lebanon broke its single-day record of new coronavirus infections on the eve of the lockdown with 4,166 cases reported in 24 hours.

It came after a holiday season in which tens of thousands of visitors flying into the country to celebrate New Year’s.

Lebanon also reported 21 new coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, bringing the number of total coronavirus cases in the small Mediterranean country to nearly 200,000, with over 1,500 deaths.

In Beirut’s commercial Hamra district, many shops were closed yesterday morning as police patrols drove by to make sure the lockdown was implemented. Police checkpoints fined motorists who violated the lockdown orders.