Lebanese health minister warns of 2-day lockdown if coronavirus ‘results remain high’

The minister was speaking at the Masnaa border on Saturday. (File/AFP)
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Updated 10 May 2020

Lebanese health minister warns of 2-day lockdown if coronavirus ‘results remain high’

  • The statement comes as Lebanon gradually eases restrictions on public movement

DUBAI: Lebanon’s Minister of Public Health, Hamad Hassan, said he would convince the government to “close the country for 48 hours” if the number of new COVID-19 infections remain high.

The statement comes as Lebanon gradually eases restrictions on public movement that were brought into force when the coronavirus broke out, state-run National News Agency has reported.

“At the Corona level, the number of infected persons jumped today to 11 cases, and I had stated that if the number and results remain high, I will ask the Prime Minister and the government to take a decision to close the country 48 hours to complete or carry on examinations in various Lebanese regions,” Hassan said.

He said people should wear face masks to slow the spread of the virus as the country attempts to return to normal life.

“This is required based on the recommendations that the Ministry of Public Health had called for,” he said. 

The minister was speaking at the Masnaa border on Saturday after the Chinese embassy donated a thermal device to be used by the medical team station there.


‘Provocative’ Erdogan to drill for oil off Libya

Updated 31 May 2020

‘Provocative’ Erdogan to drill for oil off Libya

  • Turkey claims an agreement gives it the right to explore for oil and gas in an exclusive economic zone

JEDDAH: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan plans to create a “fait accompli” over rights to natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean by drilling off the coast of Libya, analysts told Arab News on Saturday.

Ankara’s announcement that it intends to activate last year’s maritime borders agreement with the Libyan government in Tripoli has brought simmering tensions to the boil.   

Turkey claims the agreement gives it the right to explore for oil and gas in an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) between its southern coast and Libya’s northeastern coast. However, Greece, Cyprus and the EU say the deal is illegal. Turkey may also face EU sanctions over drilling in Cypriot territorial waters.

Ankara has not said exactly where it will drill, but experts told Arab News they expect exploration activities to begin off Tripoli in the short term, and then near to the coastal city of Sirte.

“From a tactical point of view, Turkey may test the scenario of a crisis with Athens where escalation takes place and then, in the context of de-escalation, the two countries would have to discuss and negotiate their positions,” said Zenonas Tziarras, a researcher at PRIO Cyprus Centre.

Mona Sukkarieh, a political risk consultant and co-founder of Middle East Strategic Perspectives, said: “If we take Turkish operations off the Cypriot coast as an indicator, operations off the Libyan coast might start off on the less provocative part of the spectrum and grow bolder with time toward the more provocative part of the spectrum.

“The objective is to demonstrate a resolute determination in order to extract concessions or, at the very least, to impose itself as a player to reckon with.”