Lebanon begins 11 days of 24-hour curfews to stem COVID-19 surge

Lebanon begins 11 days of 24-hour curfews to stem COVID-19 surge
1 / 3
People shop at a supermarket ahead of a tightened lockdown and a 24-hour curfew to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Beirut on January 13, 2021. (Reuters)
Lebanon begins 11 days of 24-hour curfews to stem COVID-19 surge
2 / 3
A man carries a gas cylinder on a motorbike in the southern Lebanese city of Sidon on January 13, 2021 as the Lebanese rush to stock up on provisions one day before a total lockdown due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. (AFP)
Lebanon begins 11 days of 24-hour curfews to stem COVID-19 surge
3 / 3
Empty shelves are pictured inside a supermarket after people hoarded food as authorities are discussing the latest measures to implement to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Beirut, Lebanon, January 11, 2021. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 14 January 2021

Lebanon begins 11 days of 24-hour curfews to stem COVID-19 surge

Lebanon begins 11 days of 24-hour curfews to stem COVID-19 surge
  • A state of health emergency, a total lockdown and a curfew have been imposed between Jan. 14-25
  • Lebanon’s land and sea borders will be closed from Thursday, while the country’s airport will be operating at its lowest operational capacity

BEIRUT: Starting Thursday morning, the Lebanese people will be put to the test again, as a new 11-day lockdown is imposed.
All projections predict a spike in the country’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the upcoming days, while the hundreds of intensive care hospital beds dedicated to COVID-19 patients are full. Doctors have started to check on patients inside ambulances, and ask those who need oxygen to provide it at their own expense, and stay home.
According to the Lebanese Health Ministry’s statistics, there were 618 critical cases and 80,386 active cases as of Wednesday morning, while the number of daily cases recorded has not dropped below 4,300 for days. These infections came a week after social interactions during New Year celebrations.
A state of health emergency, a total lockdown and a curfew have been imposed in the country between Jan. 14-25, a period that can be extended, to face the most dangerous COVID-19 wave Lebanon has witnessed since recording its first case last February.
The Lebanese Armed Forces, along with the state’s security apparatus, will ensure the implementation of the curfew across Lebanon, noting that this is the first time the army has been asked to take part in the measures to limit the spread of the virus.
Under the state of emergency, “the security forces and judicial authorities have the right to strictly enforce the laws that punish the hospitals that refuse to treat urgent cases, including coronavirus cases, punish those who do not abide by the prevention measures, and issue tickets for those who violate these measures and contribute to the spread of the virus.”
The Supreme Defense Council has prohibited people from going onto the streets, with some exceptions for medical personnel, nursing staff, diplomats, travelers and the employees of a number of institutions that require minimum administration. However, food and grocery stores will only be operating through delivery service.
Lebanon’s land and sea borders will be closed from Thursday, while the country’s airport will be operating at its lowest operational capacity. Only transit passengers with tickets showing their crossing date will be allowed to cross into Lebanon through the land borders.
Minister of Health Hamad Hassan announced on Wednesday that he is now quarantined pending the necessary tests after three of his office staff tested positive for COVID-19, joining 18,715 others who have been forced to quarantine over the past 2 days.
This comes at a time when all eyes are on the government to the implement the measures after being criticized for a general state of confusion in previous weeks.
The country has also failed to form a government capable of leading the efforts to save Lebanon from its various crises beyond the coronavirus.
The Health Ministry’s statistics show that 45,445 positive COVID-19 cases were recorded in the first 12 days of January, while 53,559 cases were recorded during the whole month of December.
Firas Al-Abyad, director of the Hariri Governmental University Hospital, said that “a large number of people in Lebanon have caught the coronavirus. This requires … people to be admitted into hospitals, which are at their maximum capacity. What scares us is that we have reached the point that we did not want to reach.”
He expected that “the number of people in need (of) intensive care will double next week, which means that we are heading toward a major disaster.”
Dr. Abdul Rahman Al-Bizri, head of the Health Ministry’s Scientific Committee on Combatting the Coronavirus Pandemic, told Arab News: “I hope that the strict total lockdown will limit the spread of the virus. However, I am afraid of going back to how things were and completely opening up the country without any measures after the lockdown is over.”
Al-Bizri is the person charged with communicating with Pfizer, on behalf of the Health Ministry, to procure its coronavirus vaccine.


Israeli police prevent Dome of the Rock repairs

Israeli police prevent Dome of the Rock repairs
This picture shows the Dome of the Rock at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Jerusalem's Old City on July 27, 2018, after the site was reopened. (AFP)
Updated 25 January 2021

Israeli police prevent Dome of the Rock repairs

Israeli police prevent Dome of the Rock repairs
  • Council set to denounce action that is ‘violation of understandings’

AMMAN: Israeli police have stopped workers from the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf from renovating the Dome of the Rock for two consecutive days, raising tensions in the old city.

Azzam Khatib, director of the Jordanian Waqf department in Jerusalem, informed Jordan’s Ambassador in Tel Aviv Ghassan Majali and Minister of Waqf in Amman Mohammed Khalaileh of the news.

Israeli officials claim the decision was made after an individual tried to renovate the ceiling of the Bab Al-Rahmeh mosque, which Israel has demanded Muslims to vacate, without reason.

The Jerusalem Waqf Council is expected to issue a strong statement denouncing the Israeli action, calling it a violation of understandings.

Bassam Hallaq, the Waqf engineer in charge of the renovation, said that Israeli police stopped work on the gold-plated Dome of the Rock on Saturday and Sunday, and prevented urgent electric work, too.

Israel insists that any renovation or repair must be pre-approved. The renovation is not structural.

Arab News has learned that the Israeli actions on Saturday and Sunday followed the efforts of an unknown Palestinian whose face was covered, who climbed the roof of the Bab Al-Rahmeh mosque in order to apply cement to stop leaks.

Israel has forbidden any repair work on the mosque.

Hallaq said that all repair work in the entire Al-Aqsa compound has also been suspended by Israel.

The mosque’s engineer insists that the Waqf has no cement materials inside the Al-Aqsa mosque compound and that Friday was a holiday when staff did not work.

Sheikh Omar Kisswani, director of Al-Aqsa Mosque, told reporters that repairs to the entire 144 dunum Haram Al-Sharif/Al-Aqsa mosque compound were the right of the Islamic Waqf and that the Israeli police have no right to interfere in their work.

A spokesman for the Israeli police told Arab News that the “subject isn’t under the responsibility of the Israeli police.”