A member of Lebanese security checks a visitor's temperature in Saida as prevention from coronavirus. AFP
Lebanon on Wednesday suspended flights from countries hit hardest by the novel coronavirus after announcing its second death from the pandemic in two days.
The Mediterranean nation has recorded at least 61 cases of COVID-19.
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Prime Minister Hassan Diab said Lebanon would suspend all trips to and from Italy, South Korea, Iran and China, the hardest hit countries.
It would also stop arrivals from France, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom, he said.
Lebanese and their families, diplomats, employees of international organisations, as well as UN peacekeepers would still be allowed in, the premier added.
After four days, all trips from those countries would be suspended, Diab said, without specifying the precise date.
Earlier on Wednesday, the health ministry confirmed several new infections, bringing the total number of diagnosed cases to 61, most of whom had caught the virus from someone infected abroad.
It also announced the death of man who had been suffering from a "chronic illness" before he was infected.
An official at the ministry said the 55-year-old Lebanese national had not left the country recently but was in contact with infected people who had arrived from abroad.
A 56-year-old man who had returned home from Egypt was the first to die on Tuesday.
The novel coronavirus is the latest crisis to hit Lebanon, already reeling from economic collapse and anti-government protests.
Health Minister Hamad Hassan said last week that the country had moved beyond the phase of "containment" and was bracing for a more serious outbreak.
Schools, universities, cafes, bars and other public places have been ordered shut, and on Tuesday Shiite authorities suspended prayers until further notice.
But public concern remains high amid fears that the country is ill-equipped to face a mass outbreak.
Beirut's Rafic Hariri state hospital, where the vast majority of cases are being treated, cannot bear the burden on its own, its director Firas al-Abyad said on Tuesday.
"If the number of cases grows, then the capacity of the healthcare system to respond needs to be improved," he said.
According to the hospital director, more than seven hospitals have already been equipped to deal with the outbreak and several more are currently being reinforced.
The announcement brings the total number of recorded coronavirus infections in the Kingdom to 238, six of whom recovered while the rest are currently isolated in health facilities, except one critical case.
France's top diplomat was on a two-day visit to Lebanon on Thursday in the first such trip in recent months by a high-ranking foreign politician to the crisis-hit country hoping for an international bailout.
In total, 94,078 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Egypt, of which 39,638 have recovered and 4,188 have died, including 31 on Friday, the ministry said in a statement late on Friday.
International aid in the form of emergency workers and medical personnel is heading to Lebanon a day after a massive explosion devastated Beirut’s port. Egypt has opened a field hospital in Beirut to receive the wounded.
Gulf visitors are highly valuable to the UK economy, with over 790,000 Gulf visitors spending £2 billion during their stays in the UK last year.
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The UAE expressed its sincere condolences and sympathy to the government and people of the French Republic and to the families of the victims of this heinous crime, as well as its wishes for a speedy recovery for the injured.