WHO Warns of COVID-19 Surge in East Mediterranean As Libya Reaches New Daily Record


On Saturday, the WHO’s Regional Director in the eastern Mediterranean region, Ahmed Al-Mandhari, said that some countries have seen an upsurge in COVID-19 cases after lifting lockdowns, easing public health measures, or as a result of other concurrent emergency situations, especially Libya, which has reached a new daily record of cases and deaths this week.

On Friday, the National Centre for Disease Control of Libya (NCDC) reported 329 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 12,958.

In a statement, he added that Libya’s health care system has been badly disrupted by years of conflict. Approximately 50% of primary health care facilities are closed.

Al-Mandhari pointed out that a total of 1,862,635 COVID-19 cases have been reported in the eastern Mediterranean region since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, which represents 8% of the global burden of more than 23 million cases reported to date.

He noted that Lebanon has been picking up speed in confirmed cases of COVID-19, in addition to other countries such as Iraq, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia which are also witnessing upsurges of varying degrees.

“A different combination of factors may be causing the upsurge in each country, including movement of migrants, mass religious gatherings and sociopolitical issues, among others,” he noted.

Al-Mandhari announced that the WHO Regional Office has formed a taskforce to work closely with these member states, undertake an evidence-based situation analysis, explore the most effective rapid response options and provide technical and logistical support when and where needed. Similar circumstances may lead to increased cases elsewhere.

He stated that the taskforce is assigned to facilitate the exchange of information and lessons learned among these and other countries of the region.