WHO Libya biweekly operational update (16-30 September 2020)

Situation Report
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General developments: political & security situation

· Prime Minister al-Sarraj expresses intention to resign at the end of October.

· Libya's GNA announced arrests of top officials over corruption, including Deputy Minister of Health and Sabha hospital director.

· The Presidential Council (PC) announced on Monday the appointment of Khalifa Al-Bakoush as interim Minister of Health, replacing Ahmed Bin Omar.

· Security Council Resolution 2542 (2020) extending the mandate of UNSMIL until 15 September 2021,



· Libya is one of seven countries in the Eastern Mediterranean region that are witnessing a steady increase in the number of cases of COVID-19.

· Under WHO’s transmission scenarios, Libya remains classified as “community transmission”. Since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Libya on 24 March 2020, a total of 34 525 people have been infected with the virus. Of this number, 14 613 people remain actively infected, 19 361 people have recovered, and 551 people have died. The national case fatality rate (CFR) is 1.6%. The municipalities reporting large numbers of confirmed cases over the past two weeks include Tripoli (15 569), Misrata (3215), Janzour (1197), Zliten (1934) and Benghazi (1108). Janzour municipality has observed the highest increase in the number of cases.

· Libya’s CFR is likely underestimated due to the absence of a mortality surveillance system in the country. The number of known deaths (551) includes only confirmed COVID-19 patients who report to health facilities. The real number of deaths (from undiagnosed infections in communities) is unknown. However, Libya has 80.19 deaths per 1 million population, which is higher than the rates reported in neighbouring countries (57.79 deaths per million in Egypt, 20.81 deaths per million in Tunisia and 39.36 deaths per million in Algeria).

· Thus far, a total of 229 253 specimens have been tested. This number includes 160 979 in Tripoli, 22 833 in Misrata, 17 451 in Benghazi, 9248 in Sebha and 8721 in Zliten.

· Following WHO’s repeated advocacy with the national authorities, the clearance process for humanitarian and COVID-19 supplies is going more smoothly. The customs authorities have cleared WHO supplies held in ports in Misrata and Benghazi.

· The customs authorities have also cleared a large shipment of oxygen concentrators that arrived in Misrata on 4 September. The supplies have been transferred from customs to WHO warehouses and are pending distribution.

· On 18 September 2020, Libya signed two key documents (the Confirmation of Intent to Participate and the Commitment Agreement) to secure its participation in COVAX, a WHO initiative that will allow countries to purchase an agreed number of COVID-19 vaccines at a guaranteed price.

· Libya has expressed keen interest in procuring the new, high-quality COVID-19 antigen rapid tests that will be made available to low- and middle-income countries following agreements with manufacturers negotiated by the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator. ACT is a ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate the development and production of, and equitable access to, COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines. It was launched by WHO, the European Commission, France and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in April 2020, in response to a call from G20 leaders the previous month.