Lebanon Set to Extend Lockdown after Daily Record of over 2k COVID Deaths
By Staff, Agencies
Lebanon Tuesday registered 61 coronavirus deaths, a new record for the second day in a row, taking the death toll to over 2,000, while also registering 4,359 more cases, fueling calls to extend the country's total lockdown.
The cases were registered among 20,299 PCR tests, a Health Ministry report said. The positivity rate of the tests in the last two weeks stood at 20.8 percent.
All the newly recorded cases were detected among the local population, according to the Health Ministry report, with the total number of cases since the virus was detected in the country in late February rising to 264,647.
Lebanon has been witnessing a surge in daily virus deaths, with a record 61 fatalities Tuesday and another record set Wednesday with 64. The overall number of coronavirus-related deaths since February stands at 2,084.
The Lebanese Health Ministry said 2,176 patients were in hospital for COVID-19, with 799 in ICUs and 246 on ventilators.
Earlier in the day, the head of Lebanon's main coronavirus hospital called for the extension of the current total lockdown beyond Jan. 25, warning that the COVID-19 spread was out of control.
"Easing the lockdown cannot occur if the virus is spreading unchecked in the community," Dr. Firass Abiad, head of the Rafik Hariri University Hospital in Beirut, wrote in a tweet. "The infection is not under control."
President Michel Aoun called for a meeting for the Higher Defense Council Thursday that is expected to extend the shutdown by at least another week, officials said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri called for the respect of the COVID measures and for helping the underprivileged during the lockdown.
"Lebanon is on the verge of reaching first position in COVID-19 cases, which is extremely dangerous and concerns the Lebanese, the residents and the displaced without exception. This calls for a deep awareness of the health repercussions in case the ongoing violations and procedures do not rise to the level that the danger persists," he said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the Higher Defense Council is set to convene for a meeting at the Baabda Palace Thursday to discuss the pressing public health situation and are expected to extend the current total lockdown which is set to expire Monday.
Health experts have repeatedly said that a lockdown of at least three weeks is necessary to flatten the curve.