Today, Thursday, the Lebanese authorities extended the general closure for an additional two weeks, in light of an unprecedented jump in deaths and infections with the new Corona virus since the beginning of the year.
So far, Lebanon, which has a population of six million, has recorded 269,241 cases, including 2,151 deaths.
On Thursday, the Ministry of Health announced the death of 67 people within 24 hours, a new record.
A week ago, a strict general closure has been in effect, including a round-the-clock curfew, which was scheduled to last until the 25th of this month. However, during the past few days, doctors and health sector officials have appealed to the authorities to extend the closure, with the continued high rate of positive examinations and the daily increase in the number of intensive care patients.
The Supreme Defense Council announced, after an extraordinary meeting at the presidential palace today, Thursday, to extend the work of the decision to completely close until the morning of February 8th. And he asked the military and security agencies to strictly implement the decision.
The authorities maintained a curfew, with few exceptions for workers in vital health facilities, military personnel and journalists. It also kept the shops closed, to adopt a delivery service.
The health sector suffers from severe stress that is beyond its capacity. The authorities are working to raise the readiness of hospitals, by increasing the number of beds in intensive care rooms and equipping government hospitals to accommodate the increasing spread of the virus.
Physician Firas Abyad, General Director of the Rafic Hariri University Hospital, the main government facility leading the efforts to tackle the epidemic, said in a tweet Thursday, “In assessing the epidemiological phase, Lebanon is currently in the fourth level (which is the worst): an out-of-control epidemic with limited health system capacity. This requires extensive measures to avoid the high demand for health services, and thus greatly increase the morbidity and mortality rates.
According to the latest statistics published by the World Health Organization on Wednesday, the occupancy rate in intensive care beds in Lebanese hospitals is currently 91 percent, and 97.89 percent in Beirut. Several hospitals announced last week that they had exceeded their capacity.