June 20 – 22, 2020 | Press Review

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Photo: John S. on Flickr

June 22, 2020: Tunisia: COVID-19 reduces foreign tourist flows by 42.5%

In connection with the closure of air, sea and land borders since mid-March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the flows of foreign tourists registered in Tunisia showed a 42.5% drop in the first four months of 2020 against a 21.4% increase during the same period in 2019, according to data from the Central Bank of Tunisia (BCT). The indicators of Tunisian tourist activity concerned nearly 1.1 million visitors. According to the BCT, this decrease concerned, in particular, the entry of tourists of European nationalities (-61.5% against 29.4%), especially the British (-80.1% against 137.5%), the French (-56% against 28.7%) and the Germans (-65% against -24.9%). Maghreb tourists experienced the same evolution (-36% against 19.1%), especially Algerians (-44.7% against 15%) and Libyans (-25.6% against 24.5%).

In the same trend, overall tourist overnight stays recorded, during the first three months of 2020, a drop of 23% against an increase of 14.6% during the same period in 2019. Correlatively, the BCT reports that tourism receipts have experienced, during the first four months of 2020, a 21.8% drop in dinars and a 15% drop without any exchange effect, against a 54% and 30.6% increase respectively during the same period of the previous year, reaching 993.7 million dinars. In connection with the closure of air spaces and the decline in foreign tourist flows, passenger traffic has recorded a slowdown (2.5%, during the first two months of 2020 against 10.4% during the same period in 2019) involving more than 1.2 million passengers.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

June 21, 2020: Tunisia: Installation of an anti-epidemic system in the emergency room of the Charles Nicolle University Hospital

A sterilization corridor using an anti-epidemic system was installed on Sunday to reinforce the Covid circuit of the Emergency services of the Charles Nicolle University Hospital in La Rabta, This is a donation from a private company that will help monitor the health status of visitors to the Emergency Department and control the wearing of masks, the temperature and disinfection of the luggage of any person passing through this circuit reserved for the care of patients who test positive for the new coronavirus. According to Souad Sadraoui, Director General of the Charles Nicolle University Hospital, the hospital’s Surgery “B” department has been reserved, in March and April, for the treatment of patients suffering from COVID-19. Called “Medical Residence”, this department is composed of several services, explained the manager, including outpatient consultation, accommodation of patients, -with a capacity of 28 beds-, resuscitation and surgery.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 500 potential infected people have passed through this department, 66 cases have been admitted until the verification of their analyses, she said. On the sidelines of the launch of the new device at Covid Circuit, the Minister of Health, Abdellatif Mekki, told the media that this new acquisition will facilitate the work of health teams. “It should help to reduce the risk of contamination among medical personnel through remote handling by avoiding direct contact with potential patients,” he added. “Despite the difficult situation in the public health sector, our hospitals managed to take care of patients throughout the period of the Covid pandemic19”, the minister pointed out. He referred to “a satisfactory track record which allows the country to move to the next phase of targeted containment, citing the good experience gained in the fight against the new coronavirus in a context marked by the forthcoming opening of borders”.

In a statement to TAP, Selma Kaafar, representative of the donor company, outlined the features of the device, which is marketed in more than 50 countries around the world. The device, which meets medical and health standards in the fight against COVID-19, has already proved its worth in several countries that have successfully defeated the pandemic, such as Germany and Singapore.It can also be installed in airports, hotels and restaurants, which guarantees less clutter and a reduced risk of contamination for people.

For more information (in English), please visit the following link.

June 21, 2020: The health risks of reopening borders: Mekki wants to reassure himself

It is no secret that the epidemiological challenge will become a little more difficult from 27 June 2020, when Tunisia will once again open its borders to welcome travellers. Reacting on this subject, the Minister of Health, Abdelatif Mekki, recalled the good results achieved by Tunisia in the fight against the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19), which has made citizens feel more comfortable, even setting aside certain health instructions such as the wearing of protective masks. However, the instructions will have to be complied with from 27 June 2020. “At the borders, a filtration system will be put in place. The situation is not ordinary, and as a result, we will not be able to live normally. Everybody has to share this burden in order to achieve another victory. We have to make sure that the number of possible [local] contaminations is reduced so that we can control the disease. Everybody has to do what they have to do,” he said on Sunday, 21 June 2020, during a visit to the Charles Nicolle Hospital in Tunis. Incoming cases of COVID-19 are the only source of contamination in Tunisia. Several voices were raised calling for the continued closure of borders. The challenge is real. The Tunisian authorities, for the time being, seem determined to open the borders, but they are not quite sure what they intend to do. According to some rumours from the corridors, some measures should be expected to be announced from 22 June 2020, aimed at travellers.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

June 20, 2020: COVID-19: Closure of the Tunisian embassy in Doha after the contamination of an agent

The embassy of the Tunisian Republic in Doha announced on Saturday evening the decision to close its doors from June 21 to July 4, after one of its staff tested positive for COVID-19.
“The decision to close for a period of 14 days comes in application of the instructions of the health containment,” explained the embassy in a statement posted on its Facebook page, stating that consular services of an urgent nature will be provided only by appointment.
The phone numbers to contact will be communicated on June 22nd, the same press release said.
The embassy will continue to ensure the smooth operation of the repatriation flights scheduled for June 24 and 26 and to facilitate medical examination procedures for Tunisian nationals, in coordination with the Qatari Ministry of Health.
According to the same source, it has also been decided to postpone until 17 July the elections for the renewal of the membership of the Tunisian community council in Qatar, initially scheduled for 26 June.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.