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BEIRUT —As many parts of the world, including the United States, explore ways to ease restrictions aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus, countries that had already opened up are closing down again after renewed spikes in infections. 

Such a resurgence of cases had been widely predicted by experts, but these increasing numbers come as a sobering reminder of the challenges ahead as countries chafing under the social and economic burdens of keeping their citizens indoors weigh the pros and cons of allowing people to move around again.

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Lebanon on Tuesday became the latest country to reimpose restrictions after experiencing a surge of infections, almost exactly two weeks after it appeared to have contained the spread of the virus and began easing up. Authorities ordered a four-day, near-complete lockdown to allow officials time to assess the rise in numbers.


A customer is served at Rona’s Cafe on May 13, in Akaroa. New Zealand will move to COVID-19 Alert Level 2 in three stages starting from May 14. Domestic travel will resume from Thursday, while restaurants, cinemas, retail, playgrounds and gyms will be able to reopen with physical distancing and strict hygiene measures in place.




Employees wearing face masks work at a factory of the component maker SMC during a government organised tour of its facility following the outbreak of the coronavirus, in Beijing, China on May 13.




Health professionals hold balloons before releasing them as they honor health workers who have died of the novel coronavirus, outside Sao Paulo University Hospital, on May 12, in Sao Paulo, Brazil.




A visitor wearing a face mask looks at French sculptor Auguste Rodin’s iconic sculpture “The Thinker” at the Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery) museum in Berlin, Germany, on May 12, after the museum re-opened its doors to the public following a relaxation of lockdown restrictions due to the pandemic.




Catholics pray during a procession in honour of Our Lady of Fatima amid a nationwide quarantine as El Salvador’s government undertakes steadily stricter measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, in San Salvador, El Salvador on May 12.



Military officers unload 5.6 tons of supplies to distribute for Insabi hospitals arrived at the Military Air Base on May 12, in Monterrey, Mexico.




Local residents queue to get protective mask at the Neuilly-sur-Seine town hall, outside Paris, France, on May 12. France is cautiously easing the two-month lockdown across the country.




A crew member of the Australian cruise ship Greg Mortimer, dressed in protective gear as a preventive measure against the spread of the coronavirus, speaks to reporters after arriving at a hotel in Montevideo, Uruguay, on May 12. Crew members disembarked the new coronavirus-stricken cruise ship Tuesday, anchored off Uruguay’s coast since March 27, after the Uruguayan government decided to transfer them to hotels to carry out their quarantine.




A man walks past a restaurant with “We Are Open” on its windows during the coronavirus outbreak, in Washington, on May 12.




Audience sit apart in observance of social distancing measures inside a theater during the first live theater show in the country as the Czech government lifted more restrictions allowing public events up to 100 people if it’s possible to keep the distancing,  on May 12, in Jablonec nad Nisou, Czech Republic.




Kenyan ministry of health medical workers prepare to take a swab from a truck driver during testing at the Namanga one stop border crossing point between Kenya and Tanzania, in Namanga, Kenya, on May 12.




Staff members of the Transports Publics Genevois (Geneva Public Transport), TPG, distribute protective face masks to passengers, in Geneva, Switzerland, on May 12. The Swiss authorities lifted second part of the lockdown. Classroom teaching at primary and lower secondary schools will again be permitted. Shops, markets, museums, libraries and restaurants reopen under strict compliance with precautionary measures.




A migrant carries food packages distributed by UNHCR during the holy month of Ramadan, in Tripoli, Libya, on May 12.




Few people wearing face masks are seen on a JR Yamanote Line, on May 12, in Tokyo, Japan.




Statues of the Monumento das Bandeiras wear face masks, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on May 12.




Customers eat street food behind plastic sheets, in Bangkok, Thailand, on May 12. Small restaurants are one of the few businesses that have been allowed to open during an easing of restrictions in the capital city imposed weeks ago to combat the pandemic.




A reflection of the iconic Sydney Opera House is seen in the Park Hyatt Hotel, next to Circular Quay, on May 12, in Australia. There were no new coronavirus infections recorded in New South Wales for the first time since the pandemic began. 6,048 residents were tested in the 24 hours to 8pm on May 11 and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said it was a major milestone in the state’s fight against the virus.




Stranded people with their belongings stand in queues to enter the railway station on May 12 in New Delhi. India’s enormous railway network was grinding back to life on May 12 with a gradual lifting of the world’s biggest coronavirus lockdown.




A teacher, wearing a protective face mask, teaches to schoolchildren in a classroom at a private school during its reopening in Saint-Sebastien-sur-Loire near Nantes as a small part of French children head back to their schools with new rules and social distancing on May 12 in France.




In Wuhan Tongji Hospital, more than 100 representatives of the old, middle-aged and young nurses born in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s reviewed the oath of Nightingale and celebrated international nurses’ day in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China on May 12.




A Palestinian worker wearing a mask and gloves sits in an UNRWA-run school where parents enroll their children for the new year without bringing them on May 12, in the central Gaza Strip.




An army official addresses market workers who tested positive for COVID-19, during a testing operation on May 11 n Lima, Peru. Workers were given their results on the spot, and those with symptoms who tested positive were taken to another location, while those who were asymptomatic were asked to quarantine at home.




A passenger wearing a protective face mask is seen on a London Underground train at Westminster, on May 12 in London, Britain.



Helen Wadsworth, right, and her sister and co-owner Mary Wadsworth, left, of The Dorothy Butler Children’s Bookshop in Ponsonby are cleaning and organizing the store in preparation for opening at level two on May 12, in Auckland, New Zealand.




Medical students check door to door for people with symptoms amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, in downtown Havana, Cuba, on May 11.




Personal trainer Flo Dowler leads the residents of Napier Avenue in a workout fitness class in Fulham, London, England, on May 11.




Indigenous people protest outside the National Palace to demand support from Mexico’s government, as the outbreak of the coronavirus continues, in Mexico City, on May 11.



A Health Ministry worker takes the temperature of a worker at the “Ciudad de Dios,” during a COVID-19 testing operation on market workers in Lima, Peru, on May 11. Workers were given their results on the spot, and those with symptoms who tested positive were taken to another location, while those who were asymptomatic were asked to quarantine at home.




Children sleeping after lunch at a kindergarten in Yongzhou in China’s central Hunan province on May 11. China reported no new domestic coronavirus infections on May 12, after two consecutive days of double-digit increases fueled fears of a second wave of infections.




Passengers wearing protective face masks check schedules at the Gare Saint Lazare railway station in Paris, on the first day mask usage is mandatory in public transport, after France begun a gradual end to a nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus in France, on May 11.




People line up for a beer at a restaurant terrace as interiors of the restaurants still remain closed in Prague, on May 11. Bars, restaurants, cafes offering outdoor seating started to serve their first consumers since March 14, as the Czech Republic is taking a step to normalcy amid the coronavirus pandemic by easing more restrictions adopted by the government to contain it.




Visitors, wearing face masks, wait to enter the Disneyland theme park in Shanghai as it reopened, on May 11. With warmer weather and new coronavirus cases and deaths falling to near-zero, China has been reopening tourist sites such as the Great Wall and the Forbidden City palace complex in Beijing.




Children read holy Koran at their home prior to Taraweeh prayer during the holy fasting month of Ramadan as prayers by worshippers in the holy places are suspended due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, in Amman, Jordan May 11.




Workers wear masks as a protection against the spread of the new coronavirus as they leave from a day’s work in Managua, Nicaragua, on May 11. President Daniel Ortega’s government has stood out for its refusal to impose measures to halt the new coronavirus for more than two months since the disease was first diagnosed in Nicaragua. Now, doctors and family members of apparent victims say, the government has gone from denying the disease’s presence in the country to actively trying to conceal its spread.




A member of the Municipal Civil Guard checks the temperature of a driver at a blockade on the border between the municipalities of Niteroi during the first lockdown day in the coronavirus pandemic on May 11, in Niteroi, Brazil.




A crewman of the Australian cruise ship Greg Mortimer throws a line as the ship arrives to port, in Montevideo, Uruguay, on May 11. The ship has been anchored off Uruguay’s coast since March 27 and tomorrow the complete crew, part of it infected with the coronavirus, will quarantine at two hotels in the city.




People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of coronavirus walk along the Neuve commercial street during a gradual lifting of a lockdown, in Brussels, Belguim, on May 11. Belgium is taking a major step in the relaxation of its lockdown with the opening under strict conditions of its shops.




Pro-government supporters attend a protest in front of the parliament building, in Belgrade, Serbia, on May 11.




Security officers stand outside the Idu Isolation Centre during its handing over to the FCT authorities, in Abuja, Nigeria, on May 11.




A police officer wears a so-called “Thermal Corona Combat Headgear” to monitor the temperature of commuters at a police check post, in New Delhi, India, on May 11.




Commuters make their way along a busy road after the government eased the nationwide lockdown, in Karachi, Pakistan, on May 11.




Students with torches protest against the alleged encroachment of Nepal border by India in far west of Nepal, in Kathmandu, on May 11.




People practice social distancing inside an elevator prior arriving to their work places at World Trade Center, after the government announced that private and state companies will reopen their offices after almost two months of lockdown in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on May 11.




Disinfection professionals spray anti-septic solution at classroom ahead of school re-opening on May 11, in Seoul, South Korea. 




People attend a Mass in a cathedral in Seville, Spain on May 11. Some parts of Spain have entered the so-called “Phase One” transition from its coronavirus lockdown, allowing many shops to reopen as well as restaurants who serve customers outdoors. 




A teacher greets student at a primary school in Thun, Switzerland, on May 11 as children return to classrooms. 




People wearing face masks inside a subway station during morning rush hour in Beijing, China on May 11. 




An officer examines documents at a check point in Jakarta, Indonesia on May 11. 




Community Support Officers patrol the beach on May 9, in Brighton, England. Officers are asking people to observe lockdown rules.




A health worker takes the temperature of people riding a taxi van, at the main entrance of Sanaa, Yemen on May 9.



50/50 SLIDES

Slideshow by photo services

The reemergence of coronavirus cases in many parts of Asia is also prompting a return to closures in places that had claimed success in battling the disease or appeared to have eradicated it altogether, including South Korea, regarded as one of the continent’s top success stories.

South Korea last week rescinded a go-ahead for bars and clubs to reopen after a spike in cases, hours after officials announced the lifting of previous social distancing restrictions and the start of a “new everyday life with the coronavirus.”

South Korean President Moon Jae-in warned his country Sunday to “brace for the pandemic’s second wave,” calling the battle against covid-19 a “prolonged” fight.

In the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the pandemic first emerged, authorities on Tuesday ordered the testing of all 11 million inhabitants after a cluster of six new infections emerged, five weeks after the city had apparently rid itself of the disease.

© Lorenzo Tugnoli for The Washington Post
Traders welcome customers in the main fruit and vegetable market in Beirut on May 11. After an increase in the number of coronavirus cases in Lebanon, authorities have imposed a new four-day lockdown.

Germany, which is widely regarded as the model in Europe of a balanced coronavirus response, is warning that some areas may have to reinstate restrictions after localized outbreaks caused a rise in cases.

“We always have to be aware that we are still at the beginning of the pandemic,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel cautioned last week as a cluster of new cases in a meatpacking plant raised fears of an intensified outbreak. “And there’s still a long way in dealing with this virus in front of us.”

Some countries are going ahead with plans to lift restrictions despite evidence that cases are on the rise and the disease is far from being contained. India and Russia eased their restrictions Tuesday even as the number of infections in both countries continued to soar. 

Iran, the epicenter of the disease in the Middle East, with more than 110,000 reported cases, has ordered a county in the southwestern province of Khuzestan to reimpose a lockdown after cases spiked there. But the government is still planning to proceed with the reopening of schools later this week, despite a marked jump in new infections since restrictions were eased in late April.

© Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images
Couples wearing face masks dance in a park next to the Yangtze River in Wuhan on May 12.

The new spikes underscore the question of when — or whether — it will ever be fully safe for coronavirus-stricken countries to lift their lockdowns.

The latest cluster in Wuhan demonstrates how hard it will be to measure whether any location is truly free of coronavirus. The new cases there suggest the virus can flare up in patients up to 50 days after they have apparently recovered, said Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in an interview with state broadcaster CCTV.

“The course of disease could last 30 to 50 days for some patients,” Wu said. “The virus could take longer to manifest itself in patients with weak immunity, who are also prone to ‘ons’ and ‘offs’ of symptoms.”

He sought to reassure citizens that the new cases did not represent a new wave of the pandemic.

“There will not be a new minor peak,” Wu said. “We have had the epidemic under control after more than three months of efforts and accumulated considerable experience in both diagnosis and [epidemic] notification. Therefore, we will not allow scattered cases to develop into massive outbreaks.”

Firass Abiad, who oversees coronavirus efforts at the Rafik Hariri University Hospital in Beirut, Lebanon’s main government hospital, said a country’s success will depend less on how it curtails the spread of disease during a lockdown than on how the country manages the inevitable resurgence after lockdowns end.

“A lockdown is a means and not an end,” he said. “It’s a means either to allow you to regain control or put measures in place to control coronavirus when it comes back. When we eased the lockdown, we knew there would be an increase in the number of cases.”

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Katherine Schwarzenegger Wanted to Be a Mom ‘as Long as’ She Can Remember

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US Weekly



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Lebanese government officials said the lockdown was being reimposed for four days starting at midnight Wednesday to allow the authorities time to conduct contact tracing and isolation for several new clusters that have broken out in different parts of the country. They represent 104 cases in the past four days, a big jump in a small country after infections had stabilized at the rate of one or two new cases a day.

Most are linked to some of the thousands of Lebanese who have been repatriated in recent weeks from around the world, said Souha Kanj, who heads the infectious diseases department at the American University of Beirut.

All the returnees are tested for the coronavirus and required to quarantine for two weeks even if they are negative. But some have not been adhering to the requirement, she said, citing the case of a man who returned from Nigeria and then held a party for his relatives, infecting at least 10 of them. One was a member of the security forces, who has in turn infected a dozen or so of his colleagues. 

There may also be cases of renewed local transmission, perhaps stemming from people who were asymptomatic but have been silently spreading the disease, Abiad said. Lebanese released from nearly six weeks of lockdown last month have surged onto the streets, openly defying some of the continued restrictions and social distancing rules that remain in force. 

Similar scenes have occurred in other countries that are ending closures. Crowds of Parisians gathered on the banks of the Seine to toast their release Monday from six weeks of one of the world’s toughest confinements, prompting police on Tuesday to ban the consumption of alcohol in the vicinity of the river.

“In any country where people don’t adhere to social distancing, this is going to happen. You are going to have a surge in cases for sure,” Kanj said.

Correction: A line in the story about the increase of cases in France was removed because it referred instead to fatalities.

Morris reported from Berlin. Min Joo Kim and Gerry Shih in Seoul and Suzan Haidamous in Washington also contributed.



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