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Lebanese applaud virus-battling health workers from balconies

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Beirut (AFP)

Cheering erupted from balconies and windows in Lebanon on Sunday evening, as the country's citizens celebrated their "heroic" medical workers battling the coronavirus pandemic.

The initiative spread online with the Arabic hashtag "a cheer for the heroes", shared by public figures including journalists, actors and the Arab pop star Ragheb Alama.

In one Beirut neighbourhood, a woman draped in a Lebanese flag sang the national anthem as her neighbours drummed on pots and pans, an AFP journalist said.

Elsewhere, Lebanese played drums and blew vuvuzelas, sharing videos of the street performances online.

Similar initiatives have gained attention from Italy to France but they have remained rare in the Arab world.

Lebanon has reported 438 COVID-19 cases to date, with 10 deaths.

To try to contain the spread of the virus, Lebanon has imposed isolation measures on its population until April 12, with a nighttime curfew in effect. Schools, universities, restaurants and bars are closed.

Many fear the country's healthcare system could be overwhelmed by cases.

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