Lebanon extends all-day COVID lockdown by two weeks

A delivery driver from the mobile app toters ride on a motorcycle, during a lockdown and a 24-hour curfew to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Beirut, Lebanon January 20, 2021. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon said on Thursday that a 24-hour lockdown imposed earlier this month to combat COVID-19 infections overwhelming its medical systems would be extended by two weeks.

The tight restrictions on movement across the country, which had been due to run until Monday, will stay in place until Feb. 8, the cabinet said in a statement.

It said the decision was taken in response to a continued increase in COVID-19 infections and a relentless rise in the number of patients needing intensive care.

Countries worldwide are feeling the strain but the crisis is particularly acute in Lebanon, where the pandemic piled in on top of a financial collapse and a huge port blast in August that had already brought the health system to its knees.

On Wednesday the health ministry reported 4,332 new cases of the coronavirus and 64 new deaths in Lebanon, raising the cumulative number of confirmed cases to more than 250,000 in a country of around 6 million people.

Editing by Kirsten Donovan