BEIRUT: Lebanon confirmed 1,507 new coronavirus cases and 12 deaths Tuesday, as the nationwide lockdown to stem the spread of the virus pushed on for the fourth day.
Of the new cases, 11 were found among incoming travelers from abroad. There have been a total of 839 deaths since February when the virus was first detected in the country.
According to the Health Ministry, a total of 14,470 PCR tests were administered in the last 24 hours. The positivity rate of the tests in the last two weeks stood at 14.9 percent.
There are currently 316 people in a critical condition.
Many residents have defied lockdown measures over the last few days, a stark contrast to the first round of lockdown back in March when streets were empty. The Internal Security Forces Tuesday reported they had issued over 10,000 fines since the lockdown was implemented Saturday morning.
In Sidon, a Lebanese Army helicopter dropped leaflets over the southern city, asking residents to stay at home, local media reported. The usually bustling markets and shops in the south were closed and roads were empty.
“Coronavirus is not a joke, stay at home,” the leaflets read in Arabic.
Sidon Governmental Hospital has expanded its testing capacity and begun conducting PCR examinations in its own laboratories.
“We have started PCR testing trials on our health care staff, until we get the approval from the Laboratories Syndicate to start administering it on patients,” Khalil Kaeen, head of staff committee in Sidon Governmental Hospital, told The Daily Star.
Lebanon’s total registered coronavirus cases topped 100,000 last week. Daily cases have consistently exceeded the 1,000 mark over the last month.
Authorities decided to implement a lockdown amid the unprecedented surge of cases in a bid to slow the spread of the virus and relieve the fragile health sector. However, Lebanon is grappling with the worst economic crisis it has witnessed in decades, putting added pressure on collapsing businesses that are forced to shut their doors to potential customers.
Caretaker Interior Minister Mohammad Fahmi hinted that lockdown could be partially eased starting Friday and some businesses could be permitted to open.
“Coronavirus infections will decrease after Friday, and some sectors will open up, and institutions must respond to the state’s circular to facilitate the work of security forces,” Fahmi said after a meeting with Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai earlier in the day.