April 24, 2020 / 1:20 PM / a month ago

Lebanon advised to extend coronavirus lockdown to May 10

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon’s government was advised to extend a coronavirus lockdown by two weeks until May 10 on Friday, but the country’s higher defence council said it should gradually restore certain parts of the economy in the coming weeks.

Already hit by a financial crisis that has prompted a sovereign debt default and cut its currency’s value, Lebanon has ordered most businesses to close, shut the airport and imposed an overnight curfew to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The Lebanese government’s cabinet is expected to pass the extension decision in a session later on Friday.

New infections have largely tapered off in recent weeks. Lebanon has recorded 696 coronavirus cases and 22 deaths so far, with the ministry of health reporting eight new cases on Friday.

The defence council said that the lockdown must be extended in order to “avoid a second wave from the epidemic that would constitute an unbearable catastrophe”.

It laid out a five-stage timetable, with the first beginning on April 27 and the last on June 8, for the government to gradually reintegrate different sectors as it saw fit.

Reporting by Eric Knecht, Tom Perry, and Laila Bassam; Editing by Alison Williams and Alexander Smith

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