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Lebanon’s coronavirus response is working, yet faces challenges

Critics say the Lebanese government's figures are unreliable amid the coronavirus crisis, fearing severe strains on the health care system in case of a major outbreak of the novel virus.

Over two months since it reported its first case of the novel coronavirus on Feb. 21, Lebanon has shut down all nonessential institutions, including Beirut’s international airport, and has put in place nightly curfews and a host of other measures to encourage people to stay home. On April 9, the Lebanese Cabinet extended the nationwide lockdown until April 26. The approach so far appears to be yielding some positive results — the number of new confirmed daily cases of coronavirus infections has started to fall since late March, and overall numbers have remained manageable compared with other countries both in the Middle East and Europe.

This recent dip has given researchers and medical professionals cautious hope that the country’s health care system capacity may be able to weather the coronavirus crisis without being overwhelmed. But significant challenges around limited medical supplies and testing remain, making it difficult to ascertain the full scope of the outbreak, where the peak will take place and whether there will be a surge in new infections down the line.

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