Decision to Gradually Reopen Country Expected on Thursday

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Lebanese women wear masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, in Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021. Lebanon, a country of nearly 5 million and over 1 million refugees, is going through an unprecedented economic crisis that preceded the pandemic and restrictions imposed to combat it. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Lebanon’s anti-coronavirus ministerial committee will meet Thursday to evaluate the results of the full lockdown that has been in place since January 14, media reports said.

“There might be an inclination to gradually reopen the country as of February 8,” al-Jadeed TV reported.

Dr. Abdul Rahman Bizri, the head of the government’s emergency health committee, meanwhile told MTV that the ministerial committee is likely to recommend a gradual reopening, noting that schools would not be included in such a plan.

Daily infections and death have soared in recent weeks in Lebanon and hospitals have struggled with COVID-19 patients, reporting near full occupancy in ICU beds.

To respond to the crisis, the government imposed a nearly month-long nationwide lockdown, the strictest since the virus hit Lebanon.

Measures in place since mid-January to fight the virus’ spread have been criticized by many as coming too late, particularly after the government relaxed previous restrictions to allow for holiday season spending from visiting expats. Many saw the relaxation as the reason for the worsening of a surge in infections already in full swing in December.

The strict lockdown measures with little to no governmental assistance have sparked protests across Lebanon, mainly in the northern city of Tripoli where days of violent clashes left one person dead and more than 400 injured.

SourceNaharnet

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