UAE and Lebanon head for lockdowns again

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DUBAI/BEIRUT • The United Arab Emirates () could reintroduce a de facto overnight curfew in some areas of the country if there are a high number of Covid-19 infections there, a government official said.

The Gulf Arab state has seen the number of cases rise this week to more than 400 for the first time since mid-July, including 461 infections and two deaths in the 24 hours to Thursday.

Asked if the national sterilisation programme, which had included a night-time curfew, could again be enforced, National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority spokesman Seif al-Zahri told Emirates TV: “Yes, that’s possible in certain areas where we observe high infection cases.”

The business and tourism hub on June 24 lifted a nationwide curfew in place since mid-March and commercial businesses and public venues have gradually reopened.

Health Minister Abdul Rahman Bin Mohammed al-Owais on Tuesday warned that the number of cases could rise after an alarming increase over the previous two weeks.

The UAE has recorded 65,802 infections and 369 deaths.

Meanwhile, still reeling from a deadly port blast that ravaged their Beirut homes and businesses, Lebanese wearily braced themselves for a new coronavirus lockdown yesterday.

“What now? On top of this disaster, a coronavirus catastrophe?” said 55-year-old Roxane Moukarzel, as she waved towards the devastated port from the balcony of her gutted home.

is to partially close down for two weeks from yesterday to stem a string of record daily infections that have brought the number of Covid-19 cases to 10,952, including 113 deaths.

The authorities fear Lebanon’s fragile health sector would struggle to cope with a further spike in Covid-19 cases, especially after some hospitals near the port were damaged in the explosion.

They have said the new lockdown measures, which include a nighttime curfew from 6pm to 6am, will not affect the clean-up or aid effort in areas ravaged by the blast.

The stay-at-home order is only the latest such decision after a months-long lockdown from mid-March.

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