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Lebanon virus cases peak ahead of new lockdown

Lebanon had gradually lifted lockdown measures starting in May and in early July, it opened the Beirut airport to commercial flights after a closure of more than three months
Lebanon had gradually lifted lockdown measures starting in May and in early July, it opened the Beirut airport to commercial flights after a closure of more than three months ANWAR AMRO AFP
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Beirut (AFP)

Lebanon on Wednesday reported 182 new coronavirus cases, its highest single-day infection tally since the country's outbreak began in February, ahead of fresh lockdown measures that go into effect at midnight.

The new cases bring the total number of COVID-19 infections in Lebanon to 4,202, including 55 deaths, according to health ministry figures cited by the state-run National News Agency (NNA).

New nationwide lockdown measures were announced this week following a rise in cases after previous restrictions were gradually lifted.

To stem a larger outbreak, the government ordered a lockdown from July 30 through August 3, coinciding with the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

The lockdown will then be suspended for two days, with restaurants and cafés allowed to reopen at 50 percent capacity. Nightclubs, bars, indoor pools and public parks will remain closed.

Restrictions will then go back into force for another five days, after which authorities will reassess whether stricter measures need to be imposed.

But new cases have increased since restaurants, bars, clubs and resorts reopened.

The pandemic struck as Lebanon was already mired in its worst economic crisis in decades, prompting fears that the country's fragile health system could collapse.

The Lebanese pound, pegged at 1,500 to the dollar since 1997, now sells for more than 7,500 on the black market, sparking soaring inflation.

This has dealt a heavy blow to a country where more than 45 percent of the population lives below the poverty line and more than a third of the workforce is unemployed.

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