|26 March, 2020

Lebanon extends shutdown by 2 weeks to April 12

A two-week extension would keep the country closed until April 12.

A man walks past a billboard amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Beirut, Lebanon March 24, 2020.

A man walks past a billboard amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Beirut, Lebanon March 24, 2020.

Reuters/Mohamed Azakir

BEIRUT- Lebanon is set to extend a countrywide lockdown by two weeks until April 12 to combat the spread of coronavirus.

Lebanon said on Thursday it had recorded 368 cases of coronavirus including 35 new cases since the day before, with six deaths in the country so far.

A request to extend the lockdown was agreed at a meeting of the supreme defence council on Thursday attended by senior officials including the president, prime minister, the health minister and the army chief.

The meeting was followed by a cabinet session.

Lebanon declared a state of medical emergency on March 15, urging people to stay at home and ordering the closure of most public and private establishments. Beirut airport is closed.

Though Lebanon has not gone as far as to declare a curfew, Prime Minister Hassan Diab on Saturday asked the security forces to enforce stricter measures to get people to adhere to them.

The powerful paramilitary group Hezbollah said on Wednesday it was mobilising some 25,000 people including frontline medics and readying hospitals to bolster the state's response to the virus.

(Reporting by Tom Perry and Eric Knecht; Editing by William Maclean and Raissa Kasolowsky) ((thomas.perry@thomsonreuters.com; Reuters Messaging: thomas.perry.reuters.com@reuters.net))

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