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New coronavirus clusters in Lebanon's marginalized communities

For many who have been dealing with the effects of Lebanon’s ongoing economic crisis or have been marginalized by their refugee status, the pandemic has not been a priority.
Migrant workers from Bangladesh, working for waste management company RAMCO, gather inside their dormitory at a company facility in Biakout, near Beirut, Lebanon, May 20, 2020. Picture taken May 20, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir - RC2MTG927AFE

BEIRUT — Nearly four months since the novel coronavirus first arrived in Lebanon, the country’s testing capacity has grown steadily according to medical experts, who express confidence that Lebanon’s health sector will be able to bear the weight of the pandemic. But although the virus remains largely confined to several isolated clusters across the country, a lack of contact-tracing staff, inadequate compliance with quarantine guidelines in certain areas and a low level of concern about the virus among certain impoverished communities have hampered efforts to contain it.

As of May 31, the country had 1,220 confirmed cases and 27 deaths, numbers significantly lower than those of many of its neighbors in the Middle East and Europe. On May 4, the country began a phased reopening of its economy, with a subsequent rise in new cases this month.

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