Lebanon coronavirus cases soar after deadly blasts

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Aug 07 2020 06:58 AM

Lebanon coronavirus cases soar after deadly blasts 1
A man is being evacuated from a boat following the deadly blasts in Beirut, Lebanon on August 4, 2020. Stringer, AFP

BEIRUT - Lebanon recorded 255 coronavirus cases Thursday -- its highest single-day infection tally -- after a monstrous blast upended a planned lockdown and sent thousands streaming into overflowing hospitals, already struggling to cope.

The health ministry figures were reported by the state-run National News Agency, which also announced two new deaths.

They bring the total number of COVID-19 infections in Lebanon to 4,604, including 70 deaths since the outbreak first began in February.

The pandemic has compounded the woes of a crisis-hit country reeling from a massive explosion that killed more than 130 people, wounded at least 5,000 and left an estimated 300,000 homeless.

Tuesday's blast meant many people forgot about their face masks as they crammed into vehicles, sometimes riding with strangers, en route to hospitals which were also damaged by the explosion.

Lebanon's hospitals were -- for the first time in months -- overwhelmed with cases other than COVID-19, with some having to turn away the wounded because they were already full.

Since the explosion, people have crowded into the hardest-hit districts to inspect their damaged homes and businesses, or as volunteers in cleanup efforts.

The blast forced authorities to suspend a lockdown that was supposed to last until Au