by Mahmoud Darwesh
TRIPOLI, March 25 (Xinhua) — Though Libya has detected the first case of novel coronavirus infection, the two rival governments have failed to unite on jointly fighting the virus.
Bard-Addin Al-Najjar, director of Libya’s National Center for Disease Control, told Xinhua that the infected person is a 73-year-old man who returned from Saudi Arabia earlier in March.
“Until the second week of the virus incubation period, the patient did not show any symptoms. He went to a clinic and several tests’ results were positive,” Al-Najjar said.
The director pointed out that the patient, whose condition was stable, was admitted to the Tripoli Central Hospital, assuring that all measures are being taken to test all those who had contact with the patient.
The UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez Serraj recently declared a state of emergency and mobilization against the virus.
The government’s measures against the coronavirus include closing airports, border crossings, education institutions and mosques, banning large gatherings, and imposing a curfew.
Serraj said that his government has allocated half a billion Libyan dinars (352 million U.S. dollars) to take protective measures against the virus.
Mahmoud Al-Shibli, a Libyan respiratory disease specialist, said that the rise in infections, especially among Libyan nationals who came from abroad, was expected, and that the containment efforts should be strengthened in the coming days.
“Infections of the novel coronavirus is a matter that should be taken seriously, especially as the medical system in Libya is weak and unable to deal with infection outbreaks,” Al-Shibli said.
“Eastern and western authorities must unify their efforts and harness all the necessary capabilities to confront any outbreak of the virus in the country. Otherwise, the disaster would be severe and the numbers (of patients) will not be controlled,” Al-Shibli said.
The Ministry of Health of the UN-backed government confirmed that it is preparing quarantine sites in several cities to meet coronavirus emergencies.
“The preparation of quarantine sites in the cities of Tripoli, Zuwara, Zliten and Ghadames is going well in terms of providing all needed equipment, which includes all the facilities for the patients and the medical teams,” said Amin Al-Hashemi, information advisor at the Ministry of Health.
Seven quarantine sites are being set up currently, Al-Hashemi said, adding that there are plans to add more sites in other cities in Libya.
The Higher Committee to Combat the Coronavirus in eastern Libya decided to prohibit movement of people between the cities and regions until further notice.
The capital Tripoli has been witnessing a deadly armed conflict between the UN-backed government and the eastern-based army over control of the city since last year.
Despite the announcements by both parties to accept international calls for halting all military actions to fight the coronavirus, the rivals have been trading accusations over breaching the truce and targeting the civilians in Tripoli.