Senior Health Official: Libya not prepared to face coronavirus

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TRIPOLI/TUNIS (Reuters) – Libya is not in a position to confront the coronavirus if it arrives, the head of its disease control center said on Thursday, calling for greater support to prepare the country’s health system for the disease.

No cases of the virus have been confirmed in Libya and the country is screening international arrivals through ports and airports, said Badereldine Al-Najar, head of the National Center for Disease Control, in an interview with Reuters.

The country lacks adequate testing, quarantine and treatment facilities, said Al-Najar.
Al-Najar went on to say that his team has taken all necessary measures to ensure all concerned health authorities around Libya, no matter the political divide, are coordinating their efforts, yet it does not change the fact that they are still ill equipped.

“In light of the lack of preparations, I now consider Libya not in a position to confront this virus,” said Al-Najar.

The disease control center is one of the few state bodies that still operate across the country, working with the health departments in each of the two rival governments.

Elizabeth Hoff, Libya country director for the World Health Organization, said it was doing a “commendable” job but faced great difficulties.

“When it comes to the possibility to respond, this is a higher risk country because it is a weak and fragmented health system due to the conflict,” she said.

“The equipment – ventilators and so on – are lacking in many hospitals. There’s a lack of doctors and nurses in the towns and in the countryside,” she said.

The authorities in Tripoli have yet to publicly address the international public health emergency not have any measures been taken as of yet.
This comes as the majority of the Government of National Accord’s leadership are abroad with Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj in South Africa just a few days ago and Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha in the UK and soon Paris.