Lebanese authorities on Friday announced a three-day lockdown over the Catholic Easter weekend in April to try to avoid another surge in coronavirus cases.
The country of over six million people has officially recorded more than 455,000 coronavirus cases and over 6,000 deaths.
Authorities announced a 24-hour curfew from April 3 until the morning of April 6 to cover the Catholic Easter holiday weekend.
The government’s coronavirus taskforce warned against “gatherings at home and in closed places… during the upcoming holidays”.
Orthodox Christians will celebrate Easter in early May, while Muslims will celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, in the middle of that month.
Coronavirus cases skyrocketed in Lebanon in January after authorities loosened restrictions during the end-of-year holiday season, allowing restaurants and nightclubs to remain open until 3:00 am, despite warnings from health professionals.
Hospitals were overwhelmed and authorities imposed drastic restrictions to stem the surge.
“Faced with an expected third wave of the pandemic… it is imperative to bolster hospital capacity, particularly in intensive care units,” President Michel Aoun said Friday.
Outgoing prime minister Hassan Diab said a new wave of infections “could be more dangerous than those that came before it”.
“Our concerns relate to being able to secure oxygen, electricity, medication and medical equipment during the serious financial crisis the country is facing,” he said.
Lebanon’s coronavirus outbreak has compounded its worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.
A local currency plunge has made medical imports, including oxygen, more expensive, leading to limited supplies.
The Syrian government Wednesday said it would supply 75 tonnes of oxygen to Lebanon in response to a request for Covid-19 assistance.