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Libya: COVID-19 - Situation Report No. 3, As of 27 April 2020

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HIGHLIGHTS

  • As of 26 April 2020, there are 61 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in Libya, including two deaths.

  • 1,000 Tunisian workers stranded on the Libyan/Tunisian border were repatriated.

  • Libyan authorities are putting plans in place to repatriate Libyans – more than 15,000 Libyans are reported in 45 countries.

  • To date, 14,055 calls have been received, 7,822 of which have been answered by the Common Feedback Mechanism’s information hotline.

  • Immediate needs include support to rapid response teams, personal protective equipment, lab diagnostic kits and supplies, establishment and support to isolation sites, training, and education/awareness.

SITUATION OVERVIEW

As of 26 April 2020, the Libyan National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) reported 61 confirmed cases, including two COVID-related deaths, in Libya. Eighteen people have recovered and 41 are under observation. A total of 1,623 tests have been performed.

The 24hr curfew imposed by the Government of National Accord (GNA) ended on 26 April 2020 and a partial curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m has been implemented for 10 days. In the East, in areas controlled by the Libyan National Army (LNA), the curfew remains 6 p.m to 6 a.m.

A special committee has been formed including with the ministries of interior, economy and health to develop a policy and procedures for repatriating Libyans from abroad. According to the authorities, there are more than 15,000 Libyans in 45 countries. Libyans being repatriated will be required to travel through either Spain, Turkey, Tunisia or Egypt, where they will undergo mandatory testing followed by 14-day quarantine before being granted approval to return to Libya.

The NCDC has reversed its earlier decision to suspend childhood vaccinations for one month. Vaccinations will resume with immediate effect. Information from the ground indicates that health personnel from most healthcare facilities lack adequate knowledge of case management for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases. This has resulted in a number of health facilities stopping their services due to contact tracing confirming COVID-19 positive patients in the facilities. This will have a serious impact on managing suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases and on access to normal health services.

Heavy fighting continues in and around Tripoli. According to a recent rapid assessment fighting near Tarhuna and along the coastal road that erupted from 18-19 April 2020 resulted in the displacement of at least 3,100 people. The majority have moved to surrounding areas and are staying with friends and families or in rented accommodation. OCHA, through the Area West Coordination Group is coordinating humanitarian assistance for displaced families.

During early hours of 21 April 2020, two field hospitals in Wadi Al Rabie were damaged by shelling. The attack also resulted in injuries to five medical staff. This brings the number of conflict-related attacks (direct or indirect) on health facilities to 11 for this year. The Ministry of Health (MoH) in Tripoli issued a statement on 23 April 2020 confirming the disappearance of four health staff (2 doctors, 1 nurse and 1 administrative support staff) from the Ibn Sina public hospital in Sirt. Their whereabouts currently remain unknown. Most public and private health facilities, including laboratories in the cities of Sabratha and Surman remain closed, following an escalation in fighting in the vicinity. Limited access and increased insecurity from ongoing fighting is expected to impact COVID-19 response planning.

More than 1,000 Tunisians that were stranded on the Libyan side of the Libyan/Tunisian border for several weeks were transferred from the Ras Jedir border crossing to their respective regions. The first group of nearly 700 people were transferred on Monday (20 April) followed by a second group of 400 people the following day. All reported undertook preventive COVID-19 medical checks and the Tunisian Red Crescent provided meals. Buses were mobilized to transport them back to the 18 regions where they were placed in mandatory quarantine centres set up by their respective governorates. Additional Tunisia workers have since approached the border but been moved to Zwara where they are receiving assistance from humanitarian partners while arrangements are being made for their repatriation. Libyan drivers and their goods that had reportedly been stuck on the Tunisian side of the border have also been able to cross.

To measure the impact of COVID-19 on the provision of health service support, the Health Sector carried out a rapid survey among its partners between 15-22 April 2020. According to the survey while over half of respondents were able to continue their operations, 32 per cent have continued with only specialized services for vulnerable and high-risk cases. The provision of health services and commodities to public healthcare facilities and the delivery of health services via mobile medical teams/clinics are among the top activities that continued. More than 63 per cent reported that movement restrictions impacted on their ability to deliver health services and 62 per cent reported funding constraints.

A recent post-distribution monitoring for multi-purpose cash programming in March/April for internally displaced people (IDPs) found that all respondents reported increased challenges to meet their food needs. While some respondents reported using savings to cover their needs, 61 per cent reported having to borrow money to purchase basic goods and 10 per cent reported selling household assets or means of transport to cover their needs. Around 18 per cent of respondents reported threats of eviction from their current accommodation, while 70 per cent expressed concerns about the hygiene condition in their accommodation.

The Libyan Joint Market Monitoring Initiative (JIMMI) which conducts weekly monitoring in light of current fluctuations released results from the survey (covering 2-10 April) confirming price increases reported previously. The highest prices were reported in tomatoes, peppers, flour and eggs. The most impacted locations were in the West, including Nalut, Ashshegaga (Al Jabal Al Gharbi), Sabratha (Zwara) and Ghadamis (Nalut). Whilst global crude oil prices are low, unofficial fuel prices continued to increase across Libya due to the ongoing oil blockade that has prevented Libya's oil refineries from receiving sufficient crude oil with increases since March in the West (+57%), East (+150%) and South (+116%).

During the ongoing survey on possible discrimination related to COVID-19, 15 per cent of refugees and migrants surveyed reported increased discrimination since the COVID-19 outbreak. Discrimination was reported as the main barrier to accessing health services, particularly in Ejdabia, Tripoli and Sebha. Women (69 per cent) were more likely to report stress and anxiety since the COVID-19 outbreak compared to men (43 per cent).

While access remains challenging, there are ongoing efforts, including at the highest levels, to ensure unrestricted humanitarian access. This includes working with municipal and national authorities on authorizations for humanitarian personnel and supplies to deliver humanitarian assistance. There are particular challenges in moving assistance between GNA-controlled and LNA-controlled areas. OCHA continues to support humanitarian organizations to seek exemptions to operate during curfew hours. A total of eight requests to the COVID-19 Committee in the East are pending approvals, including approvals for movement of humanitarian assistance for distribution, movement of staff to conduct activities and release of shipments from customs. In coordination with the Ministry of Health, WHO was able to send COVID-related health items from Benghazi to Aljufra which were then delivered by ambulances from Aljufra to Tarhuna.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.