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Lebanon extends coronavirus lockdown by two weeks

Lebanon extends coronavirus lockdown by two weeks

March 26, 2020

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon is extending a lockdown by two weeks until April 12 to combat the spread of the coronavirus, Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad said on Thursday.

Under the lockdown, declared under a state of medical emergency on March 15, people can only leave their homes to buy food and medicine and all non-essential businesses have been closed, along with Beirut airport.

“We are still in a very dangerous stage for the spread of the corona epidemic and therefore it is necessary to extend the deadline,” Abdel Samad said, citing comments from President Michel Aoun.

Lebanon has not declared a state of emergency or a formal curfew, which would require parliamentary approval, but did say on Thursday that compliance overnight would be more strictly enforced as part of stepped up measures to limit movement.

Powerful paramilitary group Hezbollah, which has some posts in government, said on Wednesday it was mobilising 25,000 people including medics and readying hospitals to bolster the state’s response to the virus.

Lebanon said on Thursday it had recorded 368 cases of COVID-19 and six deaths.

(Reporting by Tom Perry and Eric Knecht; Editing by John Stonestreet and Andrew Cawthorne)