Libya

Libya: COVID-19 - Situation Report No. 7, As of 22 June 2020

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This report is produced by OCHA Libya in collaboration with WHO Libya and humanitarian partners.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • As of 21 June 2020, there are 571 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in Libya, including ten deaths.

  • Cases continue to increase particularly in the South, accounting for nearly half of all positive cases.

  • Food prices have improved but remain high, forcing many households to adopt negative livelihood coping strategies to afford food.

  • Priority health response activities include support for health rapid response teams, personal protective equipment, lab diagnostic kits and supplies, establishment and support to isolation sites, as well as capacity building and education/awareness raising.

SITUATION OVERVIEW

As of 21 June 2020, the Libyan National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) reported 571 confirmed cases, including 10 COVID-related deaths, in Libya. A total of 98 people have recovered. Almost 20,800 tests have been performed. Cases continue to increase in the South, which account for over half of all confirmed cases. The majority of confirmed cases are from the mantikas of Sebha (270), Tripoli (164) and Misrata (35).

With support from WHO, the local authorities in Sebha are developing an operational plan for COVID-19 and engaging all partners in this process in an effort to curb the pandemic in the South. Sebha currently has 2 triage centres and 1 isolation facility with 10 ICU beds and 100 standard beds. The Ministry of Health (MoH) has deployed a mobile isolation centre and additional health personnel. Testing and contract tracing has increased, and in Sebha, the NCDC lab has started testing suspected case specimens using the GeneXpert machine after the laboratory staff passed the required professional tests. Public awareness campaigns are also being expanded to ensure residents are following recommended precautions to mitigate the spread of the disease.

In response to an increasing number of confirmed cases, the Government of National Accord has announced a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., starting 17 June 2020 for 10 days, with a 24-hour curfew on weekends with no movements between cities. In the South, movements between cities at all times is prohibited and all public events and gathering are cancelled. Shops that do not provide basic services (such as food stores) are closed, however home delivery is permitted from restaurants and cafes. In the East, a 2-day 24-hour curfew was imposed on 18 June 2020 following increasing cases in Albayda and Benghazi. On 14 June, the Minister of Education (MoE) for the Libyan Interim Government announced the extension of suspended studies in all institutions of higher, primary and secondary education, both public and private, until 27 June 2020.

REACH has reported in its recent joint market monitoring from 4-11 May that the cost of essential food and goods (as defined in the minimum expenditure basked) has remained high in May, with prices being 23 per cent above pre-COVID levels. However, the first half of May has seen an improvement (an overall price decrease of 5.6 per cent) from late April prices. The price of goods varies significantly between regions, with some areas found to be experiencing price decreases such as Nalut (-30 per cent), Albayda (-28.8 per cent) and Tobruk (-27.9 per cent), which may be attributed to cost reductions for domestically produced seasonal vegetables, such as tomatoes (-37.5 per cent), potatoes, peppers and onions (-28.6 per cent).

Fuel prices continued to increase, particularly in the West, and unofficial liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) prices are 400 per cent more expensive in May 2020 compared to one year ago. Since June 2019, Bani Waleed and Tarhuna have experienced fuel shortages for both official and parallel markets, requiring many residents to travel over 100 km for fuel. Furthermore, military activity in early 2020 has further prevented fuel shipments arriving from other supply routes. The June 2020 WFP Vulnerability Analysis Mapping (VAM) for the Middle East and North Africa included Libya as one of the countries whose levels of nutrition are most affected by the coronavirus-related restrictions and its impact on the economy. The June 2020 WFP Libya VAM highlights that 76 per cent of Libyans have adopted negative livelihood coping strategies to address a lack of resources during the pandemic. For 87 per cent of displaced households the reliance on coping strategies is higher. A major concern during COVID-19 is that 38 per cent of displaced households have reduced their health expenditures in order to cover their basic food needs. The highest proportion of households adopting emergency coping strategies was identified in Alkufra (50 per cent), Tobruk (43 per cent), and Zwara (33 per cent).

Women and girls, especially refugees and asylum seekers, are facing challenges in accessing public health due to lack of documentation required by many public health facilities. Pregnant women about to give birth are particularly challenged in public hospitals because a marriage certificate is needed among the required documentation and they are also required to be accompanied by the husband. As a result, some pregnant women are choosing to deliver at home, presenting risks to themselves and their baby. Migrant women in possession of their passport generally have access to public health services.

The postponement of school openings (to mid-July) is putting extra pressure and stress particularly on women who have the extra burden of providing home-schooling and dealing with the negative impact of confinement and curfew on children. This is exacerbated by the worsening of the economic situation and related impacts on people’s access to work and livelihoods, which is increasing the risks of domestic violence.

Not knowing where to go to get assistance continues to be the largest barrier to health care access for refugees and migrants in Libya. A survey by the Mixed Migration Centre highlighted that 38 per cent of the 936 migrants and refugees surveyed identified not knowing where to go as their largest barrier to access health services. Around 25 per cent of surveyed migrants and refugees highlighted fear of arrest and deportation as a barrier, followed by 24 per cent citing perceived stigma or discrimination against foreigners. In the same survey, 58 per cent of migrants and refugees highlighted reduced access to work as impacting their day-to-day life, followed by 51 per cent citing reduced availability of basic goods.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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