Tunisia virus situation 'catastrophic': health ministry

Tunisia passes state of emergency bill over 'catastrophic' virus impact
2 min read
09 July, 2021
Under the state of emergency, the government can impose partial or general lockdown, monitor and limit the movement of the infected and suspected people, close shops to the public, and prevent public gatherings.
Tunisian authorities described the virus' impact as 'catastrophic' [Getty]

Tunisia's government passed a state of emergency bill on Thursday amid warnings from the country's health ministry that its health system has "collapsed" under the weight of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The bill was approved at a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi, a government statement said.

Under the state of health emergency, the government can impose partial or general lockdown, monitor and limit the movement of the infected and suspected people, close shops to the public, and prevent public gatherings, activities and demonstrations of all kinds.

On Tuesday alone, Tunisia recorded 9,823 cases and 134 deaths, its worst daily toll from the virus.

Hospitals in the North African country have seen a significant influx of patients over the past two weeks. The country of approximately 12 million inhabitants has recorded nearly 465,000 cases and 15,735 deaths.

"The current health situation is catastrophic," health ministry spokeswoman Nissaf Ben Alya said in an interview with a local radio station.

"The number of cases has risen dramatically. Unfortunately, the health system has collapsed," she added.

"The health situation will get worse if efforts are not united," Ben Alya added.

MENA
Live Story

 

The health ministry's Facebook page said special field hospitals set up in recent months are no longer enough.

Some bodies of Covid victims have been left lying in rooms next to other patients for up to 24 hours due to shortages of staff to organise their transfer to overstretched mortuaries.

The government of neighbouring Libya said on Thursday it had decided to close the countries' shared border and suspend air links with Tunisia for a week, in response to the coronavirus situation and the health ministry's announcement.

Since June 20, authorities have imposed a total lockdown on six regions across Tunisia, including Kairouan, as the number of Covid cases spiralled.

The capital Tunis has been placed under partial lockdown since last week, with weekend lockdowns from July 10 to prevent crowding at beaches.

On Thursday, authorities extended those measures until the end of the month, and banned all travel between regions.

Only four percent of Tunisia's population has received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.