TRIPOLI, April 6 (Xinhua) -- The Ministry of Justice of the UN-backed Libyan government said on Monday that a total of 1,347 prisoners have been released so far over the fears about the spread of COVID-19.
"In order to prevent infections of the coronavirus pandemic and reduce overcrowding inside correction and rehabilitation facilities, the process to release those who are detained pending investigations and trials continues," the ministry said in a statement.
By the end of March, 1,347 detainees had been released from correction and rehabilitation facilities in a number of cities in Libya, the statement added.
Late in March, the ministry said it planned to release more prisoners in the future, including those who had spent more than half their sentences, the elderly, and those with special health considerations.
According to the National Center for Disease Control, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Libya is 18 so far, including one death.
UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez Serraj in mid-March declared a state of emergency and mobilization against the virus.
His government has taken a series of measures against the pandemic, including closing airports, border crossings, mosques and educational institutions, banning mass gatherings and movements among cities, and imposing a curfew.
The government also stipulated daily working hours from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time.
On March 24, Libya announced its first COVID-19 case, a 73-year-old man who had returned from Saudi Arabia.