Libya closes schools over virus fears

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Libyans go on with their lives in the capital Tripoli on March 10, 2020. - According to Libyan authorities, not a single case of coronavirus so far has been recorded in the country which faces Italy across the Mediterranean. PHOTO | MAHMUD TURKIA | AFP

Tripoli

Libya’s rival governments on Friday both announced a two-week closure of schools and universities over fears of the novel coronavirus arriving in the country.

The education ministries of the Tripoli-based unity government and its eastern-based rival announced in separate statements that all the country’s schools, both public and private, will be closed from Sunday.

War-torn Libya is largely divided between forces backing the Government of National Accord and those of eastern-based military commander Khalifa Haftar, who backs a rival administration in the country’s east.

To date, no cases of Covid-19 have been reported by either administration, but experts fear an outbreak could be catastrophic due to the country’s degraded health system.

Haftar’s forces have been battling since last April to seize the capital, and hundreds of schools were already closed since the start of the offensive due to the fighting.

The battle has left over 1,000 people dead and displaced a further 150,000.

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