Anti-COVID-19: Libya receives first shipment

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Libya received the first shipment of anti-Covid vaccines with the arrival in Tripoli of 100,000 doses of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V, at a time when the country is experiencing an increase in cases.

“We have managed to import the first batch of coronavirus vaccine, followed soon by other deliveries,” Prime Minister Abdelhamid Dbeibah announced on Twitter.

Shortly after gaining the confidence of parliament, Dbeibah had said that access to the vaccine was one of his government’s priorities, criticising the management of the health crisis until then.

The “101,250 doses of Russian Sputnik V vaccine have arrived in Tripoli,” the health ministry said in a statement.

Mr Dbeibah called on Libyans to “register on the electronic vaccination platform” launched by the authorities in early March to prepare for the vaccination campaign.

The latest official figures show 162,294 cases of infection, including 2,737 deaths, in the country of nearly seven million people.

Regional officials of the World Health Organisation (WHO) noted on Thursday the appearance of two new variants of the coronavirus in Libya. The country has been registering about 1,000 new cases a day in recent weeks, despite relatively difficult access to PCR tests for Libyans.

Health facilities are often overcrowded due to a lack of resources and equipment. No containment measures are currently in place and although masks are mandatory, they are not widely used in outdoor public places.

Libya has been trying to emerge from a decade of conflict since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011, chaos marked by the existence in recent years of rival powers in Tripolitania (west) and Cyrenaica (east).

On 10 March, a new interim government won the confidence of parliament, with the task of unifying the country’s institutions and organising national elections on 24 December.

Suzan O/AFN

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