Face masks recommended in public in Lebanon

Daily case numbers in Lebanon have surged 40% over the last week

People sit at a coffee shop amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Beirut, Lebanon December 15, 2020.

People sit at a coffee shop amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Beirut, Lebanon December 15, 2020.

REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

BEIRUT: Face masks should be mandatory in all public places in Lebanon, the Committee for the Follow-up and Preventative Measures for COVID-19 recommended during a meeting Wednesday, following the recent spike in infection cases.

The committee met Wednesday to assess the epidemiological situation in Lebanon, which is experiencing a fresh surge in infections since the discovery of the Delta variant early July.

Following calls to implement safety measures, the committee urged the General Directorate of the Prime Minister's Office “to issue a circular regarding the need to administer the vaccine to all employees and workers in the public sector, as well as at schools, universities, banks, malls and shops selling foodstuffs.”

Since Lebanon’s vaccine rollout began five months ago, just 17 percent of the eligible population have been fully vaccinated, which leaves many vulnerable to the new wave of the virus; particularly as society has forgone restrictions and daily life has returned.

Much criticism has been directed at Beirut's airport for not enforcing stricter monitoring of arrivals, which is an easy route for new variants and was how the Delta mutation entered Lebanon.

As such, the Public Works and Transport Ministry and the General Directorate of Civil Aviation Wednesday also recommended “to reduce the number of weekly flights to Lebanon from Turkey, Iraq, Ethiopia and Cyprus."

Daily case numbers in Lebanon have surged 40 percent over the last week, and health authorities are sounding the alarm over the ability of the country’s weakened and stretched health sector to deal with a new surge.

However, the daily death count has remained in single figures, which some attribute to the high vaccination rate among the elderly and those with comorbidities who are most likely to be hospitalized by COVID-19.

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