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Coronavirus: Lebanon records first death from the disease

The 56-year-old man contracted the disease while visiting Egypt
Employees from a disinfection company sanitise a bench as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus at Beirut's seaside Corniche on 5 March (Reuters)

A Lebanese man died on Tuesday after being infected with coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, marking the country’s first recorded death in the epidemic, according to the country's Ministry of Health.

The 56-year-old man contracted the disease while visiting Egypt, the ministry said, adding that he had pre-existing health conditions.

The man was quarantined in February upon his return to Lebanon in Sayidat al-Maunat hospital, before being moved to Rafik Hariri University hospital, where he died.

Minister of Health Hamad Hassan said last week that Lebanon has moved beyond the phase of "containment" and was bracing for a more serious outbreak.

At least 52 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Lebanon. Meanwhile, the country is facing economic collapse after defaulting on its debt earlier this week, as well as protests demanding a structural change to the political establishment, which have been taking place since October.

Since late February, Lebanese authorities have shut down schools, cafes, universities and pubs and halted flights for non-residents from epicentres of the virus such as Iran, Italy, China and South Korea.

They have also warned against public gatherings and closed off parks. Sport tournaments have been postponed and cultural events cancelled. 

At least 29 people who visited Egypt in February have tested positive for coronavirus after returning home.