WHO Libya: Health response to COVID-19 in Libya, update # 22 (Reporting period: 10 to 23 December 2020)

Situation Report
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o As of 21 December 2020 (week 51), Libya occupied the 10th place in the list of the ten countries with the highest number of cases in the Eastern Mediterranean region. It occupied the 6th place among the top ten countries with the highest number of deaths in the region. The number of cases and deaths decreased compared to week 50.

o Libya has 1405 confirmed cases of COVID-19 per 100 000 population (the highest in the North African region, followed by Morocco), with 20 deaths per 100 000 population (second only to Tunisia in the region). A cumulative total of 95 708 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, 28 247 people remain actively infected and 66 076 have recovered. During the reporting period, the cumulative number of deaths rose to 1385. The national case fatality rate (CFR) of 1.4% remains well below the regional CFR of 2.2% but 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 (3874/100 000), Misrata (2061/100 000) and Jabal al Gharbi (1515/100 000). The much lower rates in Sebha (935/100 000) and Benghazi (367/100 000) 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 (52/100 000) and Zwara (43/100 000), which has overtaken Azzawya (42/100 000) from the last situation update. The lower rates in Sebha (30/100 000) and Benghazi (9/100 000) are again a reflection of low levels of case notifications and testing.

o Over the past two weeks, testing has decreased (51 903 samples tested compared with 56 623 during the previous reporting period). The total number of specimens tested is 535 108 and the cumulative positivity rate is 17.9%, 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.

o Detailed daily COVID-19 analyses based on National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and WHO data are available at the COVID-19 Dynamic Infographic Dashboard of Libya maintained by the Health Management and Information System team in the WHO country office in Libya.

o Tripoli and Benghazi mantikas (municipalities) remain classified as community transmission (CT1) with low incidence of locally acquired, widely dispersed cases detected in the past 14 days. Many of the cases are not linked to specific clusters. Transmission may be focused on certain population sub-groups.