War-torn Libya reports first coronavirus case

Libyans, wearing protective face masks, shop at a supermarket in the capital Tripoli on March 15, 2020. The war-torn country has reported its first case of the novel coronavirus. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 25 March 2020

War-torn Libya reports first coronavirus case

  • Libya has been mired in chaos since the 2011 overthrow of longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi
  • Rival administrations had launched preventive measures against the COVID-19 pandemic

TRIPOLI: Libya has reported its first case of the novel coronavirus, a particular source of concern in the North African country where civil war has badly degraded the public health care system.
Libya has been mired in chaos since the 2011 overthrow of longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi and is divided between the Tripoli-based Government of National Unity (GNA) and forces loyal to eastern-based military strongman Khalifa Haftar.
The health minister of the UN-recognized GNA late Tuesday reported “a first contamination with the coronavirus in Libya,” without giving details of the case.
“The necessary measures have been taken to treat” the patient, the minister, Ehmed Ben Omar, said in a brief online statement.
Badreddine Al-Najar, director of the National Center for Disease Control, said the patient had returned from Saudi Arabia via Tunisia a week ago.
Even before this first case was detected, both rival administrations had launched preventive measures against the COVID-19 pandemic, including night-time curfews and the closure of restaurants and cafes.
But they have continued to fight in the main battleground south of the capital, where the sound of heavy bombardment was heard on Tuesday.
The risk posed by the pandemic is particularly worrying in Libya, where the security and humanitarian situation have deteriorated further since Haftar launched an offensive against Tripoli almost a year ago.
The fighting has killed more than 1,000 people and displaced 150,000.
A fragile truce entered into force on January 12, but fighting has continued with each side blaming the other.
Days ago, UN chief Antonio Guterres urged both GNA and Haftar forces to observe a truce, citing “the already dire humanitarian situation in Libya and the possible impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”


Bahrain to spend $570m on private sector salaries

Updated 31 min 18 sec ago

Bahrain to spend $570m on private sector salaries

  • Bahrain's government will spend $570 million on paying salaries to all 100,000 of its citizens employed in the private sector from April to June

DUBAI: Bahrain’s government will spend $570 million in salaries for 100,000 private sector workers from April to June to help with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, the labor ministry said on Wednesday.
The government will also pay electricity and water bills for all Bahraini citizens and businesses and will extend some tax breaks on properties and tourism, it said in a statement.
The initiative is part of a $11 billion stimulus package announced by the government for the private sector to mitigate the impact on the economy from the outbreak.