By Sami Zaptia.
London, 3 September 2020:
As 617 new cases were announced yesterday, Libya’s total Coronavirus cases reach 15,773. This brings the total active cases to 13,663, recoveries to 1,856 and deaths to 254, Libya’s National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) reports.
The exponential rise in cases has raised alarm within Libya as well as with the World Health Organization and UNSMIL.
In her latest report on Libya to the UN Security Council yesterday, UNSMIL head Stephanie Williams said ‘‘The immiseration of the Libyan people is further compounded by the debilitating effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, which appears to be spiralling out of control. The number of confirmed cases has more than doubled in the last two weeks, with 15,156 cases and 250 recorded deaths as at 1 September.
Exponential increases are a worrying trend with community transmission now reported in some of Libya’s main cities, including Tripoli and Sebha. We are, however, looking at the problem through a keyhole, as persistent shortages in testing capabilities, adequate health care facilities and contact tracing mean that the true scale of the pandemic in Libya is likely to be much higher.
Handling of the pandemic is constrained by the fragmentation of health sector institutions, the extreme shortage of medical supplies and workers as well as a funding shortage. Nearing full collapse after more than nine years of conflict, the health care system is unable to respond to the additional weight placed by COVID-19 patients along with maintaining normal health services, including child immunization programmes.
The United Nations and our partners are at the forefront of supporting the national authorities, through the provision of health supplies and personal protection equipment. We are also working closely with the authorities to build capacity of health workers, to destigmatize the virus and increase awareness to ensure people take the proper precautions to protect themselves. It is essential that Libyan authorities cooperate transparently in our joint fight to control this terrible plague’’.