UK coronavirus strain detected in Tunisia

UK Covid-19 strain detected in Tunisia as country struggles with covid outbreak
2 min read
It is not clear how many cases of the variant have been recorded by the country.
A coronavirus strain first found in the UK has been detected in Tunisia [Getty]
A coronavirus strain first found in the UK has been detected in Tunisia, the country’s health ministry said on Tuesday.

It is not clear how many cases of the variant have been recorded by the country, however the discovery has raised concerns as the North African country reels from the pandemic.

According to the World Health Organization, the mutation has appeared in at least 86 countries so far.

On Monday, Tunisia registered 392 more coronavirus cases, 21 deaths, and 722 recoveries. The country has recorded a total of 233,600 cases, 8,022 deaths and more than 198,700 recoveries.

Tunisia has one of the highest death rates from Covid-19 in the region.

Dangerous second wave

Health workers in Tunisia have been under immense pressure to treat and save Covid-19 patients, as cases soar during the country's severe second wave.

Several hospitals in the country are struggling under an overwhelming workload and staff shortages.

The increase in infections is raising alarm at a time when the government is facing unrest among youth nationwide over poverty and lack of jobs.

The government has re-implemented preventive strategies - including physical distancing, a curfew at night and the banning of meetings and demonstrations among others - in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus in the North African country.

Tunisian authorities have given emergency authorisation to use Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, but have not yet ordered any doses, a health official said on Friday.

The country expected to get its first vaccine deliveries — 93,000 initial doses from Pfizer-BioNTech — in mid-February, however that has been pushed to March.

Tunisia will receive its coronavirus jabs in March, postponing the expected start of its vaccination campaign.

Local media said national vaccine commission member Ahlem Gzara had told parliament at the time that the first doses will arrive in March.

Health Minister Faouzi Mehdi meanwhile told private radio that Tunisia will not receive the vaccines until parliament adopts a law under which all liability for potential complications suffered by vaccine recipients would be shouldered by the state.

"These are the conditions required by the laboratories for delivery of the vaccines," he said.

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