Still reeling from a deadly port blast that ravaged their Beirut homes and businesses, Lebanese wearily braced themselves for a new coronavirus lockdown due to start on Friday.
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“What now? On top of this disaster, a coronavirus catastrophe?” said 55-year-old Roxane Moukarzel, as she waved towards the devastated port from the balcony of her gutted home.
Moukarzel said she supported the decision, especially after the massive blast at Beiruts port on August 4 that killed 181 people, wounded thousands and laid waste to windows and doors across swathes of the city.
“Economically closing up the country is not good, as people want to sell, but let them lose out a little instead of getting sick and having to be carted off to hospital,” said the mother of one, who trained as an architect.
“Theres no more space in the hospitals. If people suddenly start burning up, where will they put them?”
Authorities fear Lebanons fragile health sector would struggle to cope with a further spike in Covid-19 cases, especially after some hospitals near the port were damaged in the explosion.
They have said the new lockdown measures, which include a nighttime curfew from 6:00am (0300 GMT) to 6:00pm (1500 GMT), will not affect the clean-up or aid effort in areas ravaged by the blast.
The stay-at-home order from Friday is only the latest such decision after a months-long lockdown from mid-March.
It came on the heels of a dire economic crisis since last year that has trapped peoples savings in banks, sent food prices soaring and caused tens of thousands to lose their jobs or a large part of their income.
Even before the explosion of a huge stockpile of ammonium nitrate at the port sparked popular rage against official negligence, Lebabons crisis had doubled poverty rates to more than half of the population, according to UN estimates.
Nothing to eat
Sitting inside his carpenters shop in a Beirut neighbourhood inland from the port, Qassem Jaber said he did not see how a further lockdown was helpful after months of slow business and an explosion that blew away his workshops shutter.
“Theres no work. People have no more money. They have nothing to eat,” he said, determined to keep his business open to help people rebuild their homes.
“Whats coronavirus got to do with it? We all get better and then its fine,” the 75-year-old added.
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