Water and sanitation concerns amid rising COVID-19 cases
Humanitarian partners express concern over the deteriorating Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) situation in Libya. Over 4 million people, including 1.5 million children will face imminent water problems if immediate solutions are not found and implemented. The prolonged crisis has left the sector facing great challenges, leading to a significant decline in services. This is mainly attributed to the lack of required budgets for the purchase of equipment, operational materials and spare parts for regular maintenance. Suppliers are also struggling to open bank credits in hard currency to import equipment from outside the country. The situation has been exacerbated by frequent power cuts and lack of fuel needed for operations. All these conditions could lead to a complete system breakdown and stop water supply and sanitation services to vulnerable families and children.
Libya has also seen a steep increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. As of 1 March, there are 134,967 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 2,216 deaths, according to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). Every mantika (province) has reported confirmed cases, with Tripoli, Misrata and Jabal al Gharbi municipalities reporting the largest number. The municipalities that have reported higher numbers of COVID-19 deaths include Al Kufra, Nalut, Zwara and Azzawya.
During February, testing of Coronavirus was limited to high-priority cases due to a lack of resources including testing operators and PCR devices. At the end of February, several health facilities also closed due to the non-availability of oxygen and/or no human resources. Moreover, in Tobruk the main health facility caring for COVID-19 patients reported being overburden with cases. The Medical Committee of Bani Walid Municipality warned of the suspension of work at the COVID-19 test laboratory in the city due to severe shortage in test operators.
The National Deployment Plan for COVID-19 vaccination in Libya has been finalized. The country is expecting about 96,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of March and an additional 196,800 doses in April and May. According to the plan, 426 health facilities or vaccination sites across 102 municipalities will support vaccination efforts. WHO and UNICEF provided extensive technical inputs for the development of the plan, which highlights main components of the COVID-19 vaccination in Libya. The Government of Libya is ready to cover the costs of administering COVID-19 vaccines to around 574,000 migrants and refugees in Libya but will not cover the costs of the vaccines themselves.
The UN continues to work closely with the health authorities to assess the suitability of available vaccines, monitor the evolution of the disease, give technical support and advice, and provide medicines and supplies to keep essential health care services running.