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Libya Confirms 1st Coronavirus Case

Libya Confirms 1st Coronavirus Case

Wednesday, 25 March, 2020 - 07:00
A screen shows passengers' temperature, as part of precautionary measures against coronavirus, at Misrata international Airport, in Misrata, Libya March 15, 2020. Picture taken March 15, 2020. REUTERS/Ayman Al-Sahili

Libya recorded its first confirmed case of the coronavirus on Tuesday.

A 73-year-old man who crossed into the country from neighboring Tunisia on March 5 became Libya's first recorded case, according to the National Center for Disease Control.

He is receiving medical treatment for his fever and cough in isolation at a Tripoli hospital, said the Center.

The confirmation of Libya's first case, three weeks after the patient's arrival in the country, poses a test for its fragile medical system.

Attempts at a nationwide disease protection program have been undermined by the country's division between the Government of National Accord and the Libyan National Army.

"This is a health system that was close to collapse before you get the coronavirus," said Elizabeth Hoff, head of mission for the World Health Organization in Libya.

Equipment for testing is limited, there is very little protective gear and there is a severe shortage of medical workers, particularly in rural areas, Hoff said.

"There is a national plan, but funding has not yet been allocated for implementation," she said.

The committee in charge of fighting the flu-like disease announced early on Wednesday a ban on movement between cities and areas until further notice.

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