War brings unexpected benefits to ‘virus-free’ Libya
Tripoli: Despite advice from health authorities to shun public gatherings, Moayed al-Missaoui and friends watched an Italian Serie A football match in a buzzing cafe in the Libyan capital Tripoli.
While the novel coronavirus has affected more than 100 countries since December, many in Libya believe their war-torn country's isolation may lessen the threat.
For the television spectators, turmoil since a 2011 revolution that turned Libya into a no-go zone has finally come up with a positive side.
The constant closures of Tripoli's only functioning airport and limited links with the outside world have so far buffered the North African country from COVID-19, unlike many of its neighbours.
"We're sheltered from the virus in Libya, whose capital is under siege and where land and air links are closed," said Moayed, a university student.
He said his country "has nothing to fear" from the virus, even as the number of cases across 105 countries and territories on Tuesday stood at over 114,000 with more than 4,000 deaths.
The fans were glued to the television as it beamed back pictures of an empty stadium, silent apart from the referee's whistles and the shouts of coaches, in sharp contrast to the boisterousness inside the cafe.
Italy has now suspended all sporting events until April 3, including the Serie A league, whose matches had already gone behind closed doors as the country under lockdown grapples with the COVID-19 crisis. - AFP