Beirut – Lebanon is to put 111 villages and towns nationwide on lockdown for a week after a series of record novel coronavirus daily infection rates, the interior ministry said Friday.
The move came after widespread objections to a nationwide lockdown in August, as the country faces its worst economic crisis in decades.
From early Sunday and for eight days in the villages listed, residents were to “remain at home,” and “wear a mask covering their mouth and nose if forced to go out,” the ministry said in a statement.
State institutions and places of worship would close, but health centers and delivery services would be exempted, it added.
The head of a major Beirut public hospital battling COVID-19, Firass Abiad, welcomed the new district-by-district approach.
“This will help identify hotspots and (implement) a more focused approach to restrictive measures. This can be a good alternative to the unpopular total lockdown,” he said on Twitter.
Cases have spiked in the aftermath of a massive explosion at the Beirut port on August 4 that killed more than 190 people and overwhelmed the capital’s health services, with thousands of wounded.
The country has recorded 40,868 COVID-19 cases since February, including 374 deaths.
Authorities fear that a major spike would overwhelm the country’s fragile health sector.