WHO Libya: Health response to COVID-19 in Libya, update # 21 (Reporting period: 26 November to 9 December 2020)

Situation Report
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o As of 8 December 2020, Libya has 1300 confirmed cases of COVID-19 per 100 000 population (the highest in the North African region), with 18.5 deaths per 100 000 population (second only to Tunisia in the region). A cumulative number of 88 254 cases has been reported since the first case of the disease was reported in the country on 24 March 2020.

o Of the cumulative number of cases, 28 685 people remain actively infected and 58 578 have recovered. During the reporting period, the cumulative number of deaths rose to 1261. The national case fatality rate of 1.4% remains difficult to interpret given the low rates of testing and Libya’s weak mortality surveillance system.

o The municipalities that have reported large numbers of confirmed cases include Tripoli (3582/100 000), Misrata (1875/100 000) and Jabal al Gharbi (1503/100 000). The much lower rates in Sebha (872/100 000) and Benghazi (348/100 000) reflect the low number of tests conducted (laboratories are not receiving samples due to the low number of notifications by rapid response teams (RRTs)).

o The municipalities that have reported large numbers of COVID-19 deaths include Al Kufra (76/100 000), Nalut (51/100 000) and Azzawya (40/100 000). The lower rates in Sebha (27/100 000) and Benghazi (8.6/100 000) are again a reflection of low levels of testing.

o Over the past two weeks, testing has improved (56 623 samples tested compared with 50 661 during the previous reporting period). The total number of specimens tested is 488 762 and the cumulative positivity rate is 18.1 %, much higher than the threshold of 5%. This calls for stricter public health and social measures and a rapid scale up of COVID-19 testing across the country, especially the south and east.