By Sami Zaptia.
London, 28 March 2020:
Libya’s National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) confirmed today that two new cases of Coronavirus (Covid-19) have been confirmed in the country. This brings the officially identified cases in the country to three after the country’s first case was announced on Tuesday 24 March.
The NCDC said one is a woman from Misrata whilst the other was a man who turned up at the NCDC’s Reference Laboratory in Tripoli.
It reminded citizens of the need to comply with the necessary preventive measures and follow its instructions not to roam to reduce the risk of spreading the disease in the country.
Meanwhile, the identity of Libya’s first victim has been identified by social media. His brother went live on a Libyan channel to heavily criticise Tripoli Central Hospital (Al Markazi) for its poor service, care and equipment. He claimed medical staff ran away when they discovered his brother had Covid-19. He also claimed his brother was ‘‘imprisoned’’ in his poorly furbished room which had no toilet or running water.
This subsequently kicked off a public slanging match between the hospital staff and its head. The head of the Hospital responded by saying that he had fired all the staff at the Infectious Diseases Department of the Hospital while the fired staff said they had not been fired for incompetency but because they had objected to having the Covid-19 infected patient in their department as indeed it lacked basic amenities such as a bathroom and running water. They also requested minimum protective gear and felt the department was not designed for such a highly infected disease as it lacked adequate isolation.
They also claimed they had to make do with basic supplies and equipment or relied on personal contacts to obtain them to treat the patient.
The announcement of new Coronavirus cases in Libya comes as fighting continued between forces defending Tripoli and parts of the western region that are still under the control of the internationally recognized Libyan government in Tripoli, and the Khalifa Hafter Libyan National Army (LNA).
Fierce fighting has been reported east and south east of Misrata with unconfirmed reports of advances by both sides. There are reports of about thirty deaths suffered by forces aligned to the Tripoli government. Internationally recognized Libyan Prime Minister Faiez Serraj was moved today to pay condolences to the deaths, without confirming the numbers.
The pro Khalifa Hafter / LNA forces almost never reveal their losses, but the Serraj statement claimed that they had also suffered major losses.
Meanwhile, Libya’s halt in oil production continues since January and the international community continued to call for a truce in order for the country to focus on fighting the Coronavirus.