New coronavirus cases confirmed in Libya as fighting flares

TUNIS (Reuters) - Two new cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in Libya, authorities said on Saturday, after the first was detected earlier this week, with international aid agencies warning of a disaster if it spreads. The two cases were discovered in Tripoli and Misrata, the National Centre for Disease Control said, without giving any further details. The first, confirmed on Monday, was a man who had recently returned to Libya from overseas

Reuters March 29, 2020 00:12:10 IST
New coronavirus cases confirmed in Libya as fighting flares

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TUNIS (Reuters) - Two new cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in Libya, authorities said on Saturday, after the first was detected earlier this week, with international aid agencies warning of a disaster if it spreads.

The two cases were discovered in Tripoli and Misrata, the National Centre for Disease Control said, without giving any further details. The first, confirmed on Monday, was a man who had recently returned to Libya from overseas.

Libya has been in turmoil since the toppling of strongman Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and is split between two warring administrations. The conflict has wrecked the economy, fuelled migrant smuggling and militancy, and disrupted oil supplies.

This week, fighting flared again as battles erupted on several fronts after months of suspected imports of weapons and foreign fighters in breach of an arms embargo.

The World Health Organisation and other agencies have warned that the fighting will make it far harder to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Libya, and the United Nations has called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.

In Friday's battles, focused in the southern suburbs of Tripoli and in the area between the coastal cities of Misrata and Sirte, dozens of fighters were reported killed on both sides.

(Reporting By Angus McDowall; Editing by Ros Russell)

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