Lebanon, Saudi Arabia renew lockdowns as Covid-19 cases spike

Cairo, May 12 (efe-epa).- Lebanon and Saudi Arabia on Tuesday announced plans for strict, days-long lockdowns in response to increases in the numbers of coronavirus cases in the respective countries.

From sundown Wednesday until daybreak on Monday, residents of Lebanon will be barred from leaving their homes for anything other than “urgent needs,” President Michel Aoun said.

While essential industries and shops selling necessities will remain open, other businesses must shut down, including some that only recently re-opened, such as cafes.

More than 100 of Lebanon’s 870 confirmed Covid-19 cases appeared in the last four days. Thirteen of those infections were detected among staff at the central military tribunal.

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, said that a 24-hour curfew will be effect during the period of May 23-27, coinciding with the Feast of Eid al-Fitr that marks the conclusion of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Eid is typically an occasion for Saudis to gather with family and friends to celebrate the end of Ramadan, but the lockdown will prohibit travel during the four days, the state-run SPA news agency reported.

The kingdom leads all Arab nations with 42,925 coronavirus cases, of which 1,911 were confirmed in the last 24 hours, an interval that also saw the Saudi death toll climb by nine to 264.

Officials in neighboring Kuwait implemented on Sunday a lockdown that is set to continue through May 30. With a population of nearly 4.14 million, the small state wedged between Saudi Arabia and Iraq has 10,277 Covid-19 infections, up 911 in the last day, and 75 fatalities.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday that cases in what it calls the Eastern Mediterranean region – from Morocco to Afghanistan – surged by 27 percent over the week to 274,027, while the death toll mounted to 9,138.

A significant number of the new cases registered in Lebanon were among expatriates returning to the country, according to the WHO, which also attributed some of the apparent spike in infections in Persian Gulf countries to stepped-up testing by governments that had eased restrictions during Ramadan. EFE


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