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Tunisian medical researchers are developing technology to remotely detect coronavirus despite minimal funding

Tunisia is developing strategies to tackle covid-19 [Getty]

Date of publication: 20 July, 2020

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Tunisian medical researchers are tackling an outbreak of Covid-19 with a number of novel technological projects.
Hospitals in Tunisia are tackling the coronavirus pandemic head-on by developing a number of new technologies to combat the virus, despite minimal funding, according to media reports.

Medical researchers in the North African country are using a mixture of small grants and the 13 percent public funds received in 2019, according to the Journal of the Tunisian Republic, to develop technologies for virus detection.

Students at the National Institute of Applied Sciences and Technology (INSAT), along with lecturer Dr Mustafa Hamdi, developed an online platform to help detect Covid-19 in the lungs of possible infected patients.

The platform, which he claims has an accuracy rate of 92 percent, compares the X-rays of patients with Covid-19 to that of a person suspected of having the virus.

"It gives us a score in seconds, it's instant," the artificial intelligence professor told Euronews.

The project is one of 15 others approved by the Tunisian government since April 2020.

The platform took two months to develop and began in March with a budget of $3,000.

"This platform is present in Canada and China, as well, but the difference is that our platform is open access, it could be used by everyone," PhD student Omar Khouag said.

It is able to conduct a thousand tests per day and could save the government $265 per test.

"This application can save us time and gives us a diagnosis other than the regular test kit," said Dr. Gargah, from Tunisia's ministry of health.

"It could give us the opportunity to prepare ourselves to prevent patients from going through the Covid-19 symptoms in time."

The platform is currently being tested and developed at the Les Jasmin Private Clinic in Tunis.

Covid-19 eases off

Tunisia has opened its borders to tourists for the first time since the lockdown began, as the country struggles with an economic downturn due to the pandemic.

A group of 149 European tourists arrived at Enfidha-Hammamet International Airport, as the tourism industry tentatively opens for the summer.

The tourism industry is set to lose $1.4 billion due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and people have taken to the streets to protest increasing rates of unemployment.

Hundreds of Tunisians demonstrated in the south of the country last week against unemployment and the death of a young man who they say was killed by soldiers.

Protesters in the town of Remada demanded that President Kais Saied visit their region to discuss their living conditions, witnesses told AFP and videos published online showed.

"Either we get a better life or we all die," demonstrators, including women, could be heard shouting, according to the reports.

"We want to see President Kais Saied. We voted for him and he must come here to Remada to hear us out and see how our children are being killed," a woman said in one video.

Southern Tunisia is one of the country's most marginalised regions, with above-average unemployment, failing infrastructure, and a stunted private sector.

Tunisia has so far reported 1,374 cases, including 50 deaths and 1,097 recoveries.


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