Libya’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord on Saturday declared a state of emergency over the global coronavirus outbreak. Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj confirmed that all air and seaports will remain closed from Monday, March 16, reported Reuters.
The move will affect the border with Tunisia and the suspension of flights from the city of Misrata, both in the west.
In an address to the nation, Sarraj said that schools and universities would also remain closed for two weeks.
“All land borders and air space will be closed for three weeks starting from Monday,” he said.
Sarraj has asked the Awqaf Authority to urge citizens to perform the daily five prayers at home until the danger of the disease fades away. All sports events have been canceled and wedding halls have been closed as a precautionary measure. He advised state workers to take their annual leave.
In the broadcast address, Sarraj said that his internationally recognized government had created a voluntary fund of 500 million Libyan dinars ($360.54 million) to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the country. No cases had been confirmed so far. Experts, however, fear that an outbreak could be catastrophic due to the country’s degraded health system.
In related news, the Libya government officials have agreed to form a committee to follow up on the issues of Libyans abroad after the announcement of suspending flights to Libya over the fear of coronavirus spread.
Tripoli’s sole functioning airport was closed earlier this month as fighting intensified between GNA forces and those of eastern-based strongman Khalifa Haftar, who launched an offensive in April last year to take control of the capital.
The ongoing Libya war has killed and injured scores of people and forced more than 150,000 civilians to flee their homes. The rival parties agreed to a cease-fire on Jan. 12, but they both exchanged accusations of breaching the truce.