ISSN 2330-717X

Libya Records First Covid-19 Case – OpEd


Libya recorded its first case of the coronavirus on Tuesday, the UN-backed government announced, stoking concern that an outbreak could overwhelm the war-torn country’s already weakened health care system.

The first case was a 73-year-old man who crossed into Libya from neighboring Tunisia on March 5. The Libyan patient had recently traveled to Saudi Arabia, according to the National Center for Disease Control, and is receiving medical treatment for his fever and cough in isolation at a Tripoli hospital.

The doctors said the man is highly contagious.

As the novel coronavirus pandemic sweeps across the Middle East, countries have sought to slow the increase of cases by limiting the movements of hundreds of millions of people. There are over 31,000 cases of the novel coronavirus across the Mid-East, the vast majority in the hard-hit nation of Iran.

Coronavirus could to stop the fighting in Libya. Although Libya has only recorded just one case, the World Health Organization representative in Tripoli has warned of the great risks faced if the virus spreads in a country fragmented by conflict.

According to what the world is witnessing, the internationally recognized Libyan government based in Tripoli, and led by Faiez Serraj, announced a series of measures aimed at mitigating the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19), including a state of emergency and half a billion dinars to fight the virus. They also closed of all Libyan land, air and sea borders for three weeks from 16 March.

In addition, all educational institutions are closed for two weeks, with the possibility of extension, and all sports and cultural activities and gatherings to be halted as well as wedding and occasions halls are to be closed.

The government has allowed cafes and restaurants with ”a high standard of hygiene” to be open until 4 pm, while all other establishments and shisha establishments are to be closed. Mosques are also to be closed for prayers. The state internet company has been urged to provide reduced internet packages to enable increased internet use from homes.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, both the Tripoli and Benghazi administrations have pledged money for local health initiatives.

A joint statement on Tuesday from Algeria, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, the United States, the European Union, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates said a truce would help efforts to tackle the virus. As such, this virus could help the two governments to be more cooperative in a spirit of national cohesion and urged to take all the necessary measures to support the health and well-being of all Libyans.

Moreover, this virus will provide a truce could also enable combatants to return home to provide care for relatives who may be at higher risk.

Meanwhile, the government in eastern Libya had also put into action a state of emergency plan to mitigate the virus. They set up their own virus testing lab to avoid the time-wasting process of sending samples to Tripoli, and announced that the suspected seven cases across the country, who were placed into quarantine last week, had all tested negative. These were; two cases in Benghazi, two in Misrata, one in Zliten, one in Zawia and one suspected case in the Amal oilfield.

As the capital remains under attack with a more silent and deadly form of assault, the governments and businesses quickly turndc to email and texting to allay the fears of citizens and customers with messages about coronavirus

The pandemic is causing panic and distress as it travels throughout the globe, ignoring all borders, from cyber attackers taking full advantage of peoples’ concerns and desire to arm themselves with information about the spread of COVID 19.

Cyber attackers have used an application called ‘Corona Live 1.1.’ that lulls the user into a false sense of security reassuring them that no special access is required, however, as the individual continues with the application, access to device location, media files and photos is subtly requested. This application is part of a SpyMax example, which is a trojanized version of the ‘Corona live’ app used by Johns Hopkins University ‘Coronavirus tracker’ which covers the entire range of infection rates, number of deaths and geographical spread of the pandemic.

Once the unsuspecting user is reeled in, the application allows access to the perpetrator, of remote activation of personal camera, microphone and all private files on the user’s device.

One of the operators seems to be a Libyan Telecom and Technology company and internet provider, whose IP address shows they are possibly part of a group used for DSL connections.

It is feared the application not only gives personal data, but could be used in committing extortion through accessing personal data for ransom as usual in Libya, or to gather intelligence and information on political players, which is potentially very dangerous and corrosive to the Libyan nation in the present situation.

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Miral Sabry Al Ashry

Miral Sabry Al Ashry is an Associate Professor at Future University (FUE), Political Mass Media Department.

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