As of 11 May 2020, there are 64 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in Libya, including three deaths.
Libyan authorities in the West and East have started to repatriate Libyans. The majority are coming from Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt.
Testing capacity is being increased slowly but isolation of suspected or positive cases remains a challenge.
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.
As of 11 May 2020, the Libyan National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) reported 64 confirmed cases, including three COVID-related deaths, in Libya. Cases are mostly in Tripoli (49) and Misrata (10), with other cases in Benghazi (4) and Surman (1). A total of 24 people have recovered and 37 are under observation. A total of 3,170 tests have been performed.
The Government of National Accord (GNA) announced that the curfew period will be extended until 17 May. The curfew will continue to be from 6 p.m until 6 a.m. The announcement indicates that all administrative institutions should continue working with 10 per cent of their workforce from 9 a.m to 12 p.m., with the exception of banks, which will be allowed to continue working until 5 p.m. during the curfew period. In the East, in areas controlled by the Libyan National Army (LNA), the curfew remains 6 p.m to 6 a.m.
Testing capacity in the country is slowly increasing with WHO providing technical support in Sebha (southern Libya).
Additionally, Tripoli has established two additional laboratories to support COVID-19 testing and is upgrading two more.
This will bring the total number of laboratories in Tripoli to five. The NCDC has distributed 15 GeneXpert machines and several PCR machines. However, the cartridges needed to operate the GeneXpert machines are in critically short supply (only enough to test 2,500 samples).
Isolation remains a challenge. Only 2 of 41 people who have COVID-19 (at the end of April) remained in hospital-based isolation, while others stayed at home without monitoring compliance with home isolation. The established sites in Tripoli are not ready to admit cases and there is evidence that people identified in contact tracing refuse to comply with NCDC procedures.
Work is in progress to calculate the needs for infection, prevention and control (IPC) supplies of COVID-19 assigned facilities. IPC remains a top priority for the COVID-19 Scientific Committee. Next steps also include the estimation of IPC needs for non-COVID health facilities and development of guidelines focusing on special precautions for high risk group patients (including oncology, HIV, etc.).
Authorities in both the West and East have started to repatriate Libyan citizens that are stranded overseas and want to return home. The majority of those wishing to return are in Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey. Returns are being facilitated both overland and by air, with those wishing to return required to be tested (either before or upon return) and complete a 14-day home isolation. Testing is also being undertaken for truck drivers who are travelling over the Tunisian/Libyan border with drivers required stay for 14 days in Zwara for quarantine. However, Zwara municipality’s authorities have reported that there are a number of trucks entering Libya from Tunisia that are not coordinating with the emergency committee and are not being tested.
While restrictions have eased, 80 per cent of migrant respondents to a survey conducted by the Mixed Migration Centre (MMC) reported that the pandemic had impacted their mobility and/or their intentions. The same survey reported that migrants with an irregular status are more vulnerable. Respondents reported increased police and military on the street, prompting them not to leave their homes, for fear of being identified and deported. The impact of COVID-19 has also increased stress; nearly half of the respondents to another MMC survey reported increased stress, with women (69 per cent) more impacted than men (43 per cent).
Food security for many migrants has been impacted as well. According to preliminary findings of DTM/IOM’s rapid migrant emergency food security assessment, unemployment is a strong driver behind migrant food insecurity, with COVID-19 prevention measures and curfews closing down most business and activities including daily labour. As a result, food consumption was generally reported as low and dietary diversity poor for nearly one in every three surveyed migrants (32 per cent). Due to a lack of food or means to buy food, 65 per cent of migrants reported resorting to negative coping strategies in the past month.
While access remains challenging. OCHA continues to support humanitarian organizations to seek exemptions from curfew restrictions in order to be able to travel to different municipalities. However, obtaining official authorizations requires significant coordination and time, which is delaying distributions. There are also increased challenges to conduct distributions by road, with travel and movement restrictions in place and increased fighting over vast areas of the country.
Food transportation is facing increasing problems at checkpoints which are often managed by local militias who do not have a clear line of command, posing additional delays and risks. A temporary de-confliction mechanism has been activated.
This includes both the GNA and LNA being notified of movements by INGOs and UN agencies. Furthermore, an access strategy is also being developed to streamline processes for negotiating access.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.