WHO Libya: Health response to COVID-19 in Libya, update # 19 (Reporting period: 29 October to 11 November 2020)

Situation Report
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o Libya has witnessed a 22% increase in the number of cases of COVID-19 over the past two weeks, bringing the cumulative number to 70 855 since the first case of the disease was reported in the country on 24 March 2020. Of the cumulative number of cases, 27 817 people remain actively infected and 42 098 have recovered. During the reporting period, new deaths increased by 19%, bringing the cumulative number to 970. The national case fatality rate is 1.37%.

o The municipalities reporting large numbers of confirmed cases over the past two weeks include Tripoli (6929), Misrata (1479), Benghazi (461), Azzawya (441) and Janzour (336).

o Over the past two weeks, a total of 52 877 specimens have been tested in 27 laboratories in Tripoli (80.6%) Misrata (7.8%) and Benghazi (3%). The total number of specimens tested is 376 653 and the cumulative positivity rate is 17.9%.

o On 11 November 2020, the Ministry of Health (MoH) held a meeting in Tripoli to review the COVID-19 National Response Plan. The review was structured around the nine pillars of WHO’s operational planning guidelines and the five pillars of the United Nations’ Socio-Economic Framework for Libya. The three COVID-19 response plans (prepared by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the multi-sector Supreme Committee and the National Council of Planning, respectively) will be consolidated into one national response plan and will be endorsed by the end of November 2020.

o In a press release issued on 5 November 2020, WHO and UNICEF sounded the alarm over 250 000 children in Libya who are at risk of vaccine-preventable diseases due to vaccine stockouts.

o On 9 November 2020, WHO met with the COVID-19 Supreme Committee in Benghazi (east Libya). The committee highlighted COVID-19 needs in the east and requested additional support from and strengthened coordination with WHO. The lack of oxygen-producing facilities in the east is a major obstacle in the response to COVID-19. The committee will prepare a proposal for WHO on solutions to enhance oxygen production by rehabilitating or adapting existing structures rather than building new factories. WHO will explore the capacity of other UN agencies and partners to support or co-fund oxygen production facilities in the east. WHO will also share its plans to strengthen the health response in the east with the committee.

o Although COVID-19 has led to increased levels of anxiety, vulnerability and psychological stress among all segments of the population (including migrants and refugees), mental health services are almost non-existent. Lockdowns and curfews have reduced people’s access to PHC facilities, which are the common entry point for identifying and referring patients who need mental health care. Improving access to mental health and psychosocial support services throughout the country remains a priority for WHO.