On Sunday, April 19, Lebanese officials announced a modification to the ongoing nationwide travel ban, which seeks to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Effective immediately, movement is prohibited between 20:00 and 05:00 (local time), beginning one hour later than the initial curfew. Alternating vehicle traffic controls remain in place, in which cars are only permitted on the road based on an odd/even license plate format, with personal and public vehicles whose license plates end in odd numbers permitted to circulate on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Those ending in even numbers, including zero, may circulate on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. No vehicles are permitted to circulate on Sundays. Only vehicles operated by security forces, medical staff, pharmacists, diplomats, and those working in other essential sectors are exempt. The number of passengers in one car is limited to three, including the driver.
Essential businesses may also remain open until 20:00. A nationwide lockdown remains in place until Sunday, April 26. Therefore, all nonessential businesses will remain shut, and individuals are only permitted to leave their homes to buy food and medicine. Additionally, the Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport (BEY), along with all ports and land borders, remain closed.
As of Monday, April 20, there are 673 confirmed COVID-19 cases including 21 deaths. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.