Lebanon confirmed 29 new cases of coronavirus in the country on Wednesday, bringing the total to 333, according to a statement from the Lebanese Ministry of Health.
The new cases were all confirmed from either Rafiq Hariri University Hospital, which is Lebanon's designated coronavirus-treatment hospital, or “other university hospitals accredited by the ministry,” said the statement.
“These figures indicate the start of the outbreak phase of the disease, and accordingly the Ministry emphasizes the crucial need to implement of all preventive measures,” added the statement.
The total number of deaths in the country is now 6, according to a health ministry source cited by the Daily Star.
Coronavirus lockdown hurts Lebanon
Authorities have imposed a curfew across the country, with security forces patrolling the streets and setting up roadblocks. Interior Minister Mohamad Fahmi said that security forces had increased their presence in public because people had refused to follow orders to stay inside.
The lockdown measures have hit everyday life in the country. Stores and businesses across the capital Beirut have closed, and members of the public told Al Arabiya English they are struggling economically.
Video surfaced on Wednesday of a taxi driver who set in his car alight in protest at a fine from authorities.
A Lebanese taxi driver sets his car alight on the main road leading to #Beirut’s airport after being fined by police for not complying with measures to combat the spread of the novel #coronavirus.https://t.co/te5mso3VXe pic.twitter.com/NUpqxRVssu— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) March 24, 2020
Concerns have also been voiced about the spread of coronavirus to Syrian refugee communities in Lebanon.
“The international community and UN institutions must without delay prepare the ground to save these communities in case the virus spreads among them,” said Health Minister Hamad Hassan.
Photos and videos of Lebanon’s once bustling airport surfaced online amid the #coronavirus outbreak. Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport, often criticized for being too crowded to function properly, is now shut down. #Lebanon #Beirut— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) March 20, 2020
More here: https://t.co/FCQzPZ1JGC pic.twitter.com/lfkC1qL1G7