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The New Arab Staff

Algeria provides Tunisia with oxygen supplies after Covid outbreak leads to shortages

Algeria sold respirators to its neighbour [Getty]

Date of publication: 29 April, 2021

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Tunisia was able to overcome oxygen shortages thanks to help from the international community, including neighbour Algeria.

Critical oxygen shortages in Tunisia have finally come to an end thanks to support from neighbour Algeria, according to Health Minister Faouzi Mehdi, however the country still remains in the grips of a Covid-19 pandemic.

"The ministry was able to purchase the necessary ventilators and oxygen equipment through the international donations dedicated to support Tunisia in the face of the coronavirus," the minister told MPs.

"Ninety-one percent of Tunisia's available resuscitation beds are filled, and those with ventilators are at 85 per cent capacity."

Earlier this week, Mehdi revealed that Algeria had pledged to provide Tunisia with oxygen, and acknowledged the help in a statement.

"Thanks to Algeria, we were able to contain the mounting numbers of infections.

The North African country, like several others in the region, is suffering due to the coronavirus pandemic, with cases inching up.

Over 303,000 people have contracted the virus, while the pandemic has led to 10,444 deaths.

Brink of collapse

Earlier this month, Tunisia announced additional restrictions to curb Covid-19 as a rise in infections posed what officials called "dangerous" risks for people in the country.

The new measures, which included banning public and private gatherings, were supposed to end on 30 April.

However, a new surge in cases means the country's precarious vaccination campaign is under threat due to limited supplies.

The government’s scientific advisers revealed the healthcare system was on the brink of collapse, with some 90-110 new patients needing hospitalisation every day, Reuters reports.

Tunisia has only 500 intensive care beds.

Tunisia is receiving vaccinations through the World Health Organisation's COVAX scheme, but the rate of delivery is slow, with only 300,000 people vaccinated out of a population of 12 million.

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