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Lebanon returns to lockdown after post-explosion surge in virus

The country has registered all-time highs in daily new COVID-19 cases following the massive Aug. 4 explosion.
This picture taken on August 19, 2020 shows a view of the landmark Le Gray hotel in the centre of Lebanon's capital Beirut overlooking the Martyrs' Square, as a banner is hung across its facade reading in English "Stay strong! Together we shall riise once again, see you soon", and a giant Lebanese national flag hung over the facade of the neighbouring building, in the aftermath of the monster blast that ravaged the city earlier in August. (Photo by JOSEPH EID / AFP) (Photo by JOSEPH EID/AFP via Getty Images

Lebanon began a new lockdown on Friday after COVID-19 cases surged in the wake of the Beirut port explosion.

The Aug. 4 explosion left hundreds of thousands of people homeless and filled the hospitals. As preliminary investigations indicate a fertilizer known as ammonium nitrate caught fire and exploded in a warehouse, people have protested en masse over the government’s fateful decision to store the explosive material so close to Beirut’s downtown.

The new lockdown beginning on Friday includes a ban on movement from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Malls are closed and social gatherings are banned. Restaurants can provide only takeout and delivery services. Cleanup and recovery efforts related to the explosion can continue, according to the Lebanese news outlet Naharnet.

Cases continue to break records in Lebanon. On Thursday, the country registered an all-time high of 605 new cases, according to the Ministry of Public Health.

The entire Lebanese governmental cabinet resigned amid the fallout from the explosion, leaving a caretaker health minister in charge of leading the coronavirus response. The ministry is currently working to secure a potential vaccine from Russia in addition to instituting the new lockdown as part of its virus mitigation efforts.

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