Lebanon extends coronavirus lockdown for another two weeks

Image of a street in Beirut on March 17, after authorities implemented coronavirus lockdown. (File/AFP)
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Updated 22 May 2020

Lebanon extends coronavirus lockdown for another two weeks

  • Out if the new 63 cases, 27 were among repatriated nationals
  • Minister said still unclear when the international airport will reopen

DUBAI: Lebanon extended the “state of general mobilization” until June 7 after an increase in daily coronavirus cases, local newspaper The Daily Star Lebanon reported.

This is the fifth time the government has extended the lockdown, which originally started on March 15.

“The main reason for the increase of infections is the expat flights” bringing stranded nationals back, information minister Manal Abdel-Samad said.

The country registered the highest number of daily cases, at 63 on Thursday, after relaxing some lockdown measures and reopening restaurants and cafes. Out of the new infections, 27 were detected among repatriated Lebanese citizens.

Several of the newly confirmed cases were directly traced to returned nationals too, who tested positive days after arrival.

It is still unclear when the Rafik Hariri International Airport will reopen, Abdel-Samad said.

More flights repatriating nationals will arrive in the country from Doha, Paris, Casablanca, Lagos, London and Lusaka. Passengers from all trips, except from Lagos and Lusaka, will be tested for coronavirus once they arrive in Lebanon. Other Lebanese repatriates from the other two cities meanwhile will be tested ahead of their flights.

Lebanon’s current numbers are at 1,024 infected individuals, 663 recovered patients and 26 fatalities.


Yemen’s new government soon as rivals agree to ‘comprehensive and permanent’ truce in Abyan

Updated 4 min 33 sec ago

Yemen’s new government soon as rivals agree to ‘comprehensive and permanent’ truce in Abyan

  • ilitary units loyal to the internationally recognized government received on Friday orders from the government to immediately put into place a truce
  • The Yemeni government and separatists have been at war during the past couple of years

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s soldiers and separatists agreed on Friday to put into place a “comprehensive and permanent” truce in the southern province of Abyan and other contested areas, local army commanders said on Saturday.

The fresh announcement about halting hostilities comes as Maeen Abdul Malik Saeed, prime minister-designate, is closing in on announcing the formation of a new shared government agreed under the Saudi-brokered Riyadh Agreement.

Military units loyal to the internationally recognized government received on Friday orders from the government to immediately put into place a truce, ending military alerts that have been in place in the province of Abyan for months.

“We have received orders to end combat standby state and put into place a comprehensive and permanent truce in the province,” a local government military officer in Abyan, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Arab News on Saturday. “It seems that the politicians in Riyadh reached an agreement,” the officer said, referring to the continuing new government consultation between Yemeni rivals.

Forces from the pro-independence Southern Transitional Council (STC) said that they received similar orders from their commanders to end hostilities in Abyan.

The Yemeni government and separatists have been at war during the past couple of years.

Aimed at ending the STC’s unilateral self rule in southern provinces, the government launched a military offensive in May in Abyan that has claimed the lives of dozens on both sides.

In July, Saudi Arabia, which brokered the Riyadh Agreement in late 2019, proposed a new mechanism for accelerating the implementation of the agreement which led to Yemen’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi mandating Maeen Abdul Malik Saeed to form a new government and the naming of a new governor and chief of security for Aden.

On the ground, the Kingdom has deployed military officers to monitor a truce between the rivals and the implementation of military and security arrangements under the deal. 

The premier-designate is putting the final touches on his consultations with Yemeni parties on a new government as major ministries were distributed between Yemen’s big and small parties, two sources told Arab News on Saturday.

“A new government might see light this week as combat forces will simultaneously pull out of contested areas and join fighting against the Houthis,” a senior STC source in Riyadh, said preferring anonymity.

Military and security arrangements under the deal, such as the STC withdrawal of military units from Aden, the country’s interim capital, and Abyan, have long blocked the formation of a new government as the legitimate government insists on the implementation of the security and military side of the agreement before announcing the agreement.

To end the impasse, the rivals agreed to announce the government this week, coinciding with the withdrawal of forces from Aden and Abyan, sources told Arab News. 

Government and STC sources in Riyadh said that under the current consultations, Yemen’s president would pick names for four “sovereign” ministries — defense, interior, finance and foreign affairs.

The STC was given the ministries of transport, social affairs and labor, civil service and insurance, agricultural and fisheries, as well as the ministry of public works and highways.

The remaining ministries were distributed between the General People’s Congress that has ruled Yemen for three decades, the Islamist Islah Party, the Socialist Party, the Islamist Rashad Party and Hadramout Inclusive Conference. 

Reacting to the news of a new government announcement and the halt of hostilities in their province, people in the contested areas in Abyan voiced hope that the factions would this time become serious and end fighting in their areas. “We are tired of fighting. We want to return to our normal life,” a man from Abyan’s Shouqra, who asked to remain anonymous, told Arab News.