- Title: Hit by war and oil blockade, Libya prepares for pandemic
- Date: 24th March 2020
- Summary: MISRATA, LIBYA (MARCH 22, 2020) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF LIBYANS DISTRIBUTING BAGS WITH MASKS TO PEOPLE IN CARS (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LIBYAN CITIZEN, ALTAHER ALZAROUK, SAYING: "This is volunteer work. We can't say that we will wait for the government, we need to move. So we moved, my family and I. My family helps me at home, and I have my children and my nephews standing with me. We distribute masks, we distribute gloves. We hope to be able to help prevent this virus from spreading. If we sit here and wait for the government to act, we will not reach any results." VARIOUS OF VEHICLES SPRAYING DISINFECTANTS AROUND THE CITY CHILDREN'S PLAYGROUND BEING SPRAYED WITH DISINFECTANTS VARIOUS OF VEHICLE SPRAYING DISINFECTANTS (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) HEAD OF ENVIRONMENTAL REFORM AT MISRATA CLEANING COMPANY, OSAMA AMSIMIR, SAYING: "The work we are doing here is preventative and precautionary to challenge the coronavirus. We are spraying surfaces and places that people might have touched in all areas of the city, including public spaces and parks, by using the tools available to us." MISRATA, LIBYA (MARCH 21, 2020) (REUTERS) AID WORKERS SETTING UP BANNER SIGN READING (Arabic): "AWARENESS CAMPAIGN TO FIGHT THE SPREAD OF CORONAVIRUS" VARIOUS OF AID WORKERS DISINFECTING BANK COUNTERS AID WORKER DISINFECTING BANK FLOOR VARIOUS OF AID WORKERS STICKING SIGNS ON FLOOR VARIOUS OF AID WORKERS DISINFECTING FLOOR DISINFECTANT BEING SPRAYED ON FLOOR (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) AID WORKER AT MISRATA RED CRESCENT, FAISAL GALWAL, SAYING: "The purpose of this campaign is to fight the coronavirus in a number of ways. We have an awareness campaign, led by a number of specialist doctors, to make employees of the Libyan state aware (of coronavirus dangers), these include employees at banks, security, and the like. We are also disinfecting public spaces, and places where people normally gather, especially in the coming weeks when employees are meant to receive their paycheques from these banks. Employees of the public sector have been made aware of preventative ways to deal with customers." VARIOUS OF AID WORKERS HELPING BANK CUSTOMERS WEAR MASKS AS THEY ENTER THE BANK VARIOUS OF BANK CUSTOMERS STANDING IN LINE PRACTISING SOCIAL DISTANCING CUSTOMER SEEN STANDING ON STICKER ON FLOOR CUSTOMERS STANDING IN LINE CUSTOMER AT BANK TELLER EMPTY PLAYGROUND MISRATA, LIBYA (MARCH 22, 2020) (REUTERS) (NIGHT SHOTS) VARIOUS OF POLICE STANDING GUARD IN EMPTY STREET DURING CURFEW EMPTY STREETS DURING CURFEW HOURS
- Keywords: Coronavirus Health Libya Measures Misrata
- Reuters ID: LVA001C6EW95H
- Location: MISRATA, LIBYA
- City: MISRATA, LIBYA
- Country: Libya
- Duration: 00:04:38
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Topics: Health/Medicine
- Story Text: Both the warring factions in Libya have imposed lockdowns to guard against the coronavirus but fighting is still going on, compounding difficulties the country faces in preparing to combat the disease.
So far, testing has confirmed no cases there. But officials are worried about what will happen if and when it does.
"This is a health system that was close to collapse before you get the coronavirus," said Elizabeth Hoff, head of mission for the World Health Organisation in Libya.
Both the internationally recognized government in Tripoli, in the west, and a rival administration ruling from Benghazi in the east have imposed lockdowns, stopped foreign travel and promised resources for the health service.
The eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) has been trying to capture Tripoli since last year. Despite a ceasefire call by the United Nations last week to allow all sides to focus on preparing for the pandemic, fighting has continued, with shelling reported by both sides.
Equipment for testing is limited, there is very little protective gear and there is a severe shortage of medical workers, particularly in rural areas, Hoff said.
A blockade of oil ports by forces aligned with the LNA in eastern Libya has cut off most revenue to the Central Bank of Libya in Tripoli, which funds state institutions and the salaries of public workers across the country.
A doctor in a medical center in Tripoli said she had not been paid since last year.
The parallel central bank in Benghazi, set up by the eastern administration, said on Tuesday it paid salaries to government workers in east Libyan areas for the first time this year, but a doctor said no money had arrived in his account.
Some medics in Benghazi had refused to work at a hospital over the lack of pay and adequate protective gear, a doctor there said, but the problem was later resolved.
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), an international medical charity working in Tripoli, said the latest bout of warfare had made things worse.
"Libya...is a high-risk country essentially due to the deficiencies of the Libyan healthcare system that has been further impacted by the latest armed conflict," said Joris de Jongh, MSF project coordinator in Tripoli.
In Misrata, a port city held by forces loyal to the internationally recognized government in Tripoli to its west, cleaning companies disinfected parks and public gardens.
Volunteers distributed face masks and gloves as people entered banks, where marks on the floor showed where to stand to ensure a safe distance from others waiting in line.
"If we sit down and do nothing, waiting for the government, we won't get any results," said Taher Alzarooq, a 55-year-old volunteer.
(Production: Ayman Sahely, Nadeen Ebrahim)
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