Libya sends 30 doctors to help Italy fighting the Coronavirus
The Foreign Ministry of Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) announced Tuesday that Libya is sending 30 doctors to Italy to help fight the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The decision arrived during a telephone conversation between the Foreign Ministers of the respective countries. The Foreign Ministry reported that the parties discussed efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus and the latest developments, particularly in Italy. Libya stressed that its government and people stood-by Italy during its Coronavirus ordeal and that Libya is confident of Italy’s ability to overcome this epidemic. According to a statement released by Libyan Foreign Ministry, Italy thanked the Tripoli-based Libyan government and the Libyan people for their full solidarity and for the medical initiative to send about 30 doctors and assistant doctors in coordination with the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to help Italian medical staff and stand by them in these circumstances.
The decision was largely criticized on social networks. Although this gesture reveals the great generosity of the Libyan people and the closeness to the Italians in this difficult historical period, many believe that Libya is not in the position to provide aid to third countries, given the internal lack of resources and ongoing conflict. In fact, doctors in hospitals in the historic region of Fezzan are in short supply after the departure of foreign staff since 2011. Beyond the controversy of those who see the sending of medical personnel to Italy as a political move aimed at recovering the support of the Italian government, which has deteriorated over time, it is clear that the doctors in question in addition to helping Italian hospitals will also have the opportunity to be trained in the practices adopted by China and Italy in the management of the pandemic, as well as the treatments for the most serious patients. However, the hospitals in Southern Libya continue to lack diagnostic and medical tools, as well as beds, equipment and personal protection devices. If the virus will manifest there – which fortunately has not happened so far – there would be a risk of massacre. To date, according to the Medical Center for Disease Control, 21 cases of COVID-19 have been recorded across Libya. An 85-year-old woman died, while 8 people would already have recovered in Misurata.
There is a risk, however, that these data are not real, since the first announcement the communications from the Ministry of Health of Tripoli and the Medical Center have been questioned by the same hospitals that denied having received cases of contagion. Some also speculated that it could be a communication strategy to discourage the fighters engaged at the front. After closing air traffic and border crossings based in Tripoli, Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj extended the curfew in the areas under his administration from 14:00 to 07:00 in the morning. The GNA also banned travel between cities, with the exception of vital activities, and reduced working hours for civil servants from 9:00 to 12:00. The Presidential Council has allocated 75 million dinars (LYD) in recent days to manage the Coronavirus emergency for municipalities. Funds, which citizens fear will be lost, given the high level of authorities corruption at central, but also local level.