By Sami Zaptia.
London, 31 March 2020:
The internationally recognized Libyan government, based in Tripoli and led by Faiez Serraj, announced today the allocation of LD 75 million to municipalities across Libya. The amounts from the ‘‘Emergencies Budget’’ came in implementation of what was agreed at the government’s 17 March meeting with Municipality mayors to counter the spread of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Libya Herald reported yesterday that a group of municipalities had criticised the Serraj administration for not living up to its promises made at the above referenced 17 March meeting. Some mayors had called for the resignation of the Health Minister and his Deputy. A public petition has been circulating social media to that effect. There have been unconfirmed reports today that the Health Minister has actually handed in his resignation letter to Prime Minister Faiez Serraj.
The news comes on the day that to sources revealed to Libya Herald that Libya’s first Coronavirus patient had been released from the Al-Khadra hospital having recovered. His case, revealed by the Tripoli Health Minister on 24 March, is still shrouded in somewhat of a mystery with some medical sources doubting that he ever did contract Coronavirus.
It will be recalled that the patient was a 73-year-old man who had returned from a visit to Saudi Arabia on 5 March. Initially, the man was reported to have hailed from the western Libyan town of Aljmail. Subsequently, local media and his brother revealed they were a well-known family from Tripoli.
The allocations were disbursed to a total of 119 municipalities/local administrations according to population density. They ranged from LD 5.5 million for the city of Benghazi, LD 2.6 for Misrata, LD 2.2 for Hay Al-Andalous, LD 2.1 to Busleem to LD 119.000 to the smallest municipality. Predictably, there has already been objection to the way the money has been allocated.
The Government’s Anti-Coronavirus Committee today met and discussed the mechanism by which these allocations can be used to support the municipalities in four main areas.
First, they discussed the provision of personal protection and infection control in quarantine and isolation areas and centres in accordance with the recommendations of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
Secondly, the provision of the requirements of medical and medical assistants at detection, quarantine and health isolation centres.
Thirdly, the provision of sterilizers and other supplies in accordance with the recommendations of the NCDC. Fourthly, they discussed training needs.
The meeting also discussed the levels of preparedness of isolation and quarantine rooms according to a briefing by the Director of Project Management at the Health Ministry.
The mechanism for the provision of medicines, medical equipment and available supplies, in accordance with a briefing by the Director of the Health Ministry’s Pharmacy Department, was also discussed.
The Committee also agreed to follow up on all social media pages that it said are working to publish fake news that will spread chaos and horror among citizens, highlighting that all its information is only published by its official sources through the NCDC sites.
The Tripoli government also reported today a package of further measures by its Ani-Coronavirus High Committee. These included the establishment of controls and a mechanism to ban the entry of goods into the country other than medical goods and foodstuffs, as part of a mechanism to ensure the counter the spread of the Coronavirus.
The Committee also discussed the quarantine centre in accordance with a proposal submitted by the Social Solidarity fund, in accordance with its recommendation.
Meanwhile, 100 containers loaded with medical supplies were released from Tripoli port today after sitting in docks for weeks as a result of bureaucratic red tape. They included vital sanitizers and disinfectants. They were stored in the state Medical Supply Organization (MSO) warehouses. They will be distributed to health facilities and municipalities in order to raise the degree of anti-Coronavirus readiness, the Tripoli Health Ministry reported.
In the same vein, the Tripoli Health Ministry announced that a Boeing 747 cargo plane arrived in Misrata from Belgium loaded with a shipment of personal protection equipment for health practitioners working in isolation / quarantine areas.
The shipment consisted of various specialist protective overalls, including for ICU’s, face shields, disposable and reusable face masks and PVC goggles, the Health Ministry reported.
Finally, the Health Ministry announced today the activation of the Zaweet Dihmany Medical Complex as a detection centre for suspected Coronavirus cases as a first filtering phase. It also discussed the training mechanism for medical and their assistants in dealing with suspect or confirmed cases of the Coronavirus according to the National Plan for Disease Control.