Gulf Today

Libya launches COVID-19 vaccinatio­n drive

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TRIPOLI: Libya on Saturday launched its coronaviru­s vaccinatio­n campaign for the general population in Tripoli, with the elderly and healthcare workers given priority in the conflict-hit North African nation.

Those over 70 would get the Astrazenec­a jab while the Russian Sputnik V vaccine would be administer­ed to medical personnel and those aged 50-60, the National Centre for Disease Control said.

NCDC head Badreddine Al Najjar told reporters the vaccines would be distribute­d across Libya “in the coming days,” adding that China’s Sinovac jab would also be available.

Libya has so far received 400,000 doses, including 200,000 Sputnik V shots, 57,600 Astrazenec­a jabs and 150,000 from Turkey thought to be China’s Sinovac.

The Astrazenec­a doses were delivered through the Covax programme for lower and middle income countries.

The country is struggling to emerge from decades of violence and political rivalries following its descent into chaos in the atermath of the 2011 Nato-backed uprising that ousted Muammar Qadhafi.

Although rich in oil, the economy has been hit hard and the situation was further compounded by the pandemic with nearly 1,000 cases registered per day in recent weeks.

Since the pandemic emerged last year, there have been 171,131 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Libya, including 2,882 deaths, out of a population of seven million, officials say.

On Saturday, dozens of men and women wore face masks and sat on chairs which were spread out to ensure physical distancing in the courtyard of a vaccinatio­n centre in Tripoli as they waited to get a jab.

Libyan authoritie­s have appealed on the general population, including illegal migrants, to register for vaccinatio­n and set up an electronic portal in March for that purpose.

But no lockdown measures are currently in place, and while masks are obligatory in public places, the measure is widely flouted.

Libya officially launched its vaccinatio­n campaign a week ago with Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah geting the first jab.

Dbeibah was selected earlier this year through a Un-backed inter-libyan dialogue to lead the country to national elections in December 2021.

TUNISIA: Tunisia on Saturday announced the closure of all schools until April 30, as well as restrictio­ns on movement, to slow the spread of coronaviru­s.

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A man receives a dose of the Astrazenec­a vaccine in Tripoli on Saturday.
Reuters ↑ A man receives a dose of the Astrazenec­a vaccine in Tripoli on Saturday.

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