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WATCH: Tunisia's health minister breaks down in tears over coronavirus on live TV

Tunisia's Health Minister Abdellatif Al-Makki cried on national television [Twitter]

Date of publication: 8 April, 2020

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Tunisia's health minister broke down in tears 'of strength' over the public's inability to adhere to the government's coronavirus measures.
Tunisia's Health Minister Abdellatif Al-Makki was overcome with emotion during a Tuesday press conference on the coronavirus pandemic.

Al-Makki broke down in tears during his speech on live television, Arabi 21 reported, complaining that Tunisians were not following government measures to combat the spread of the virus.

The minister said that adherence to the curfew is a "national security issue" and stressed that "the situation has become serious".

Minister Makki addressed his emotional response, saying that his tears "are tears of strength, not tears of weakness".

"Health workers will continue working to the very end."

The health minister warned Monday evening in a post on his Facebook page that Tunisia was losing the battle against coronavirus.

"We are starting to lose what we have built," he said, blaming those that have flouted the rules of the lockdown.

Tunisia's interior ministry warned Tuesday that people infected with coronavirus could be prosecuted for manslaughter if they contaminate others by disobeying the health ministry's instructions. 

"If someone who is sick does not self-isolate as required in line with health ministry instructions, and they contaminate someone else, we will pursue them under the penal code," Interior Minister Hichem Mechichi told reporters. 

"If that cross-contamination results in death, they can be prosecuted for manslaughter." 

Testing has confirmed some 600 cases of coronavirus in Tunisia, among which there have been 23 fatalities. 

Since April 5, three hotels across the country have been equipped to take care of up to 1,500 coronavirus patients outside hospitals, according to authorities. 

Around 120 people are currently staying in those hotels. 

But some infected people have been reluctant to remain in quarantine.

Read more: Coronavirus lockdowns are further eroding civil rights in Middle East nations

"We will be strict in applying the law... our responsibility is to protect the people," Mechichi said.

Tunisia imposed a 6 PM to 6 AM curfew from March 18, and imposed daytime movement restrictions on citizens on March 22, in a bid to forestall the spread of the virus.

Hundreds have been arrested for breaking daytime rules and around 1,000 for breaching the nighttime curfew, according to authorities.

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