March 13, 2020
The Lebanese Council of Ministers is requiring airlines to cancel flights to and from countries witnessing outbreaks of the new coronavirus – including Iran.
IranWire’s correspondent in Lebanon, Fatima Al-Othman, reports that, following an emergency meeting, Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced that all journeys made by air, sea, or land to and from Italy, Iran, South Korea, and China would be suspended, as well as flights from countries that have seen an outbreak of the coronavirus. He added that a four-day deadline would be given to Lebanese citizens, diplomatic missions, and UN International Force in Lebanon personnel wishing to return to the country.
Fatima explained that Diab’s decision to suspend flights from Iran came after popular demand, which began following the arrival of the first coronavirus case from Iran. It later became clear that the infection had spread to most of the passengers on that airplane, with additional cases later announced, indicated that most cases had originated from infected countries.
So far 61 people in Lebanon have contracted coronavirus. Lebanese citizens have called for the resignation of the country’s Health Minister on social media, holding him responsible for the outbreak of the virus due to the leniency shown people arriving from Iran.
Last week, Lebanese Health Minister Hamad Hassan announced that Lebanon had moved from the containment phase of the virus to the spreading phase, indicating that the spread of the virus is limited.
Coordinator of the “Rally for Sovereignty” campaign in Lebanon, Naufal Daou, posted on his Twitter account that he had received a summons to the Central Criminal Investigation Department due to a tweet in which he attacked Health Minister Hassan for believing that the suspension of flights from Iran to Lebanon was a political decision.
Daou stated: “You will not intimidate me and I shall stick to my political stances: The government follows Iran!”
On 11 March, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, announced that the United Nations now considered the new coronavirus, which causes Covid-19, “a global pandemic” that is spreading across the world, according to Reuters.