BEIRUT, Lebanon, Nov. 19 (UPI) — Lebanon’s authorities is combating a surge of COVID-19 circumstances amid a scarcity of medical workers and tools with a brand new two-week lockdown. However many individuals, determined to earn cash for meals, will not be staying dwelling.
Restrictions have been largely noticed once they began on Saturday, with a 24-hour normal curfew imposed Sunday that left the streets almost abandoned and most of the people staying indoors.
However by Monday, many who weren’t allowed to drive on that day have been circulating of their vehicles whereas others have been working of their outlets behind closed doorways. Police have issued 15,116 tickets for violations. About 85 % of the inhabitants has been following restrictions.
“If we shut, who’s going to feed us?” Afif, a 29-year-old father of three who works at a linen retailer in Beirut’s Tarik al Jadide neighborhood, advised UPI.
“If I do not work, I do not receives a commission and so I am unable to deliver meals to my household. The shop proprietor is doing his greatest to assist his workers, however what can he do extra with the disastrous financial situations?”
Afif, who spoke on the situation his final title be withheld, stated “well being comes first” and he’s carrying a face masks and training social distancing. However, he stated, “There may be additionally a actuality…many can not even afford to purchase a bundle of bread.”
A parcel of bread goes for 1,500 Lebanese kilos ($1 at official price and 25 cents on the black market price).
Lebanon reported Wednesday greater than 110,037 circumstances of coronavirus and 852 deaths because the virus was first detected in February. When every day circumstances reached greater than 1,922 on Nov. 11, the federal government determined to impose the brand new lockdown.
The pandemic arrived amid a devastating financial disaster, with poverty and unemployment on the rise — distress additional exacerbated by an Aug. four explosion on the Beirut port that destroyed a 3rd of the town and left 300,000 homeless.
Below the primary one-month lockdown on the finish of March, the Beirut authorities distributed a one-time money help of 400,000 Lebanese kilos (about $150 at then-market charges) to the poorest households.
Conscious of its restricted sources and a dying personal sector, the caretaker authorities of Prime Minister Hassan Diab opted for a two-week lockdown this time as an alternative of the six weeks advisable by the World Well being Group in Lebanon.
Healthcare companies, banks, factories, the judiciary, supermarkets and meals shops are exempted from restrictions, whereas outlets, eating places, cafes, gyms, bars and nightclubs have been ordered to shut. A 5 p.m. to five a.m. curfew was imposed and driving was banned on Sundays whereas odd-even license plate rule was utilized. Vehicles with license plates that finish with an odd quantity are allowed to flow into on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays whereas these with license plates ending with an excellent quantity on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
“We have to persevere, as we do not have different choices however to limit exercise. The state of affairs is extraordinarily worrisome,” Dr. Firas Abiad, director of the government-run Rafik Hariri College hospital in Beirut, advised UPI. “Coronavirus is spreading, registering 15% positivity price.”
Simply earlier than the lockdown was ordered, the hospital might now not admit sufferers transferred from others as a result of it was at capability. Even the emergency room was full.
“The virus is transferring sooner,” Abiad stated, including that the lockdown would “enable us to remain one step forward” and keep away from “pointless deaths.”
The reopening of the Beirut Airport on July 1 ought to have been managed higher, he stated, by imposing correct quarantine measures and following up on passengers, particularly these from Africa, Iran and Italy, who examined constructive.
The port explosion might need contributed to a spike in coronavirus circumstances due to pressing rescue operations and ensuing chaos “however not as a lot as we’ve got feared,” Abiad stated.
“What the explosion did was to place an even bigger pressure on the medical sector with a lot of hospitals destroyed and put out of service,” he stated.
Even earlier than the port blast, Lebanon’s hospitals have been strained by the financial disaster, pressured to dismiss a number of medical doctors and nurses. On Monday, the caretaker well being and finance ministers promised to cowl unpaid payments amounting to 480 billion Lebanese kilos which have been accumulating since 2012.
“This can be a whiff of oxygen in order that we do not drown,” Suleiman Haroun, president of the Syndicate of Personal Hospitals, advised UPI. “We face a really dangerous and tough state of affairs…We are attempting as a lot as we will to maintain working with what’s out there.”
Well being Minister Hamad Hassan has been urging the nation’s 137 personal hospitals to assist battle coronavirus and put together particular sections for COVID-19 sufferers.
“We’ve got an enormous scarcity within the medical workers to deal with coronavirus sufferers…we’ve got to rehire those that have been beforehand dismissed due to the monetary disaster however many had already left the nation,” Haroun stated.
The hospitals are in want of synthetic respirators and solely few of them are in a position to pay for them in money — $20,000 per unit — on account of banking restrictions on worldwide transfers and withdrawals restricted to particular month-to-month quantities in Lebanese kilos.
In the meantime, the lockdown is anticipated to deliver one other financial blow to the personal sector.
The president of Lebanon’s Socio-Financial Council, Charles Arbid, advised UPI the losses underneath the brand new lockdown might vary from $750 million to $1 billion.
“If you end up locked down, you simply eat; you do not even pay for gasoline,” Arbid stated. “That is very, very onerous on eating places, retailers, commerce and tourism. The query is whether or not we’re going to open once more in December.”
One other closure, he stated, will likely be “very dangerous,” with Christmas and New 12 months festivities normally constituting 20 % of the financial actions.
“My actual concern is poverty…We’re going from poverty to distress,” stated Arbid, expressing issues that folks have misplaced buying energy, a rising variety of individuals are emigrating and extra small companies are closing.
Nonetheless, he remained hopeful.
If a brand new cupboard is shaped, a rescue plan is labored out with the Worldwide Financial Fund and $1 billion is pumped in to compensate those that misplaced their homes and companies within the port explosion, the relaunching of the nation’s financial system might start.