20200312_Lebanon_corona
Lebanese people wearing protective masks shop on a street in the Lebanese capital Beirut, on March 11, 2020, amid fears from the novel coronavirus outbreak. Lebanon's health ministry announced it has recorded a second death from the novel coronavirus which has been diagnosed in 61 people nationwide. Image Credit: AFP

Beirut - Lebanon said on Wednesday it will halt all travel to and from Italy, South Korea, China, and Iran to curb coronavirus and gave nationals four days to return from other virus-hit countries before a more sweeping shutdown of flights would take effect.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab told a news conference that Lebanon was stepping up measures to curb the outbreak after a second death was recorded on Wednesday and the country's total confirmed cases reached 68 according to Lebanese media.

Diab said Lebanon was also banning entry of passengers from France, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Spain, Britain, and Germany.

He said that Lebanese nationals, diplomats accredited in Lebanon, residents and NGO workers would have four days to return from these countries before flights to and from them would also be halted.

As part of heightened counter rmeasures, Lebanon also will ban public gatherings and shut public venues such as malls and restaurants, Diab said.

Schools and universities have been closed since late February, shortly after a woman, 45, became the first coronavirus case to be announced in Lebanon.

The woman travelled to Lebanon from Iran and was the first in the country to fully recover from the coronavirus.

She was discharged on Wednesday afternoon.

There are now 61 recorded cases of coronavirus in Lebanon, which had its second death on Tuesday.