Schools Closed in Benghazi over Spread of Flu


On Thursday, the Education Monitoring Office in Benghazi announced that preschools and elementary schools will be temporarily suspended across the city, from Sunday. This is over the spread of the flu and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus).

In a letter addressed to educational institutions in Benghazi, the decision “does not include students from the sixth grade, until high school.”

It added that the “closure came after statistics showed a high number of infected people with severe respiratory symptoms, especially among children aged from 1-10 years.”

The city is also seeing a surge in pediatric emergency department visits for flu-like symptoms, including RSV. The common respiratory virus typically causes mild, cold-like symptoms, though can be serious for some, especially infants and older adults.

A number of medical centers in Benghazi have reported seeing a significant increase in patients coming into the pediatric emergency department, since the beginning of the school year. Especially for seasonal illnesses such as bronchiolitis, which is most commonly caused by RSV, and the flu.

Children are likely being exposed to viruses now that pandemic restrictions such as masking, social distancing, and lockdowns have been lifted, public health experts say.

Notably, people infected with RSV usually show symptoms within 4-6 days after getting infected. Symptoms of RSV infection usually include:

Runny nose
Decrease in appetite

These symptoms usually appear in stages and not all at once. In very young infants with RSV, the only symptoms may be irritability, decreased activity, and breathing difficulties.

Almost all children will have had an RSV infection by their second birthday.

RSV can also cause more severe infections such as bronchiolitis, an inflammation of the small airways in the lung, and pneumonia, an infection of the lungs. It is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children younger than 1 year of age.

Healthy adults and infants infected with RSV do not usually need to be hospitalized. But some, especially older adults and infants younger than 6 months of age, may need to be hospitalized if they are having trouble breathing or are dehydrated.

In the most severe cases, a person may require additional oxygen, IV fluids (if they can’t eat or drink enough), or intubation (have a breathing tube inserted through the mouth and down to the airway) with mechanical ventilation. In most of these cases, hospitalization only lasts a few days.