Coronavirus: Lebanon extends general mobilization through Dec. 31, cases rise

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Lebanon’s Higher Defense Council has extended a general mobilization until December 31 as coronavirus cases continue to rise, Lebanon’s National News Agency reported Wednesday.

Coronavirus cases have been on the rise in Lebanon following the deadly explosion at the Port of Beirut that left 181 dead, and hospitals, half of which were damaged in the blast, are filling up.

This is the ninth such extension of general mobilization regulations, local media the Daily Star reported. The regulations give authorities broad powers to implement preventive measures to contain the virus.

“We are going through a delicate phase in the confrontation with corona[virus]. The number of infections is rising in a way that suggests that if the rise continues, we will lose control of the epidemic,” caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab said at the Higher Defense Council meeting.

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Caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan said that hospital capacity needed to be increased to help combat the spike in cases.

Within a 15-kilometer radius of the blast, only half of the 55 medical facilities are fully operational, and around 40 percent have suffered moderate to severe structural damage, a United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs report read.

The nation’s leading coronavirus voice, Firass Abiad has been vocal on the matter, saying last week “The rapid continuous rise in the number of patients with COVID-19 in Lebanon is extremely worrisome.”

While Lebanon grapples with rising coronavirus cases, the government will also file a complaint against the Israeli cross-border attacks at the United Nations Security Council.

Following Hezbollah gunfire toward Israel, the latter conducted overnight airstrikes on Hezbollah observation posts Tuesday night.

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The Higher Defense Council denounced what is said was “an Israeli assault” in southern Lebanon.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier Wednesday that Israel views with “great gravity” the latest escalating tensions.

“We shall react forcefully to any attack against us,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “I advise Hezbollah not to test Israel’s strength. Hezbollah is once again endangering Lebanon due to its aggression.”