Libya imposes sweeping restrictions as COVID cases hit new high

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Libya on Sunday imposed sweeping restrictions to stem the spread of coronavirus as recorded cases hit a new high, with experts warning of a “critical” situation.

For the next two weeks, cafes must close, weddings and organized funerals with mourners are barred, and the use of public transport is banned, Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah said in a decree.

Restaurants can only serve food via deliveries, while people must wear a mask and observe social distancing rules in shops and markets.

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National Centre for Disease Control head Badreddine al-Najjar warned of a “critical” situation, due to the rapid increase in infections.

In past weeks, daily recorded cases have not exceeded 400 a day.

But numbers spiked this week, with health officials recording 2,854 cases in 48 hours, according to the latest official figures.

Libya is struggling to emerge from decades of violence and political rivalries following its descent into chaos in the aftermath of the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted dictator Muammar Qaddafi.

The new measures come just days after the borders were closed with North African neighbor Tunisia, where the health system is struggling to cope with an influx of patients with COVID-19.

Libya, a country of less than seven million, has officially recorded 204,090 cases including 3,240 deaths. Just over 425,000 people have been vaccinated.

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