June 20 – 26, 2020 | Press Review Tunisia

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Photo: John S. on Flickr

June 26, 2020: Tunisia: The conditions of acceptance of passengers on TUNISAIR, on the occasion of the reopening of borders

On the occasion of the reopening of the borders, scheduled for tomorrow 27 June 2020, the airline Tunisair has issued a statement to inform passengers of the measures to be taken to avoid a new wave of contamination with the Coronavirus.
Here is the full text of the statement:
“In the context of the opening of the borders and in order to avoid a second wave of contamination with COVID-19, the conditions for accepting passengers on TUNISAIR are as described below.
All our teams are mobilized to offer you a serene journey. The following measures are applicable on all our flights until further notice :

  • Wearing a mask is compulsory throughout the journey (at check-in, boarding, during the flight and on disembarkation) for all passengers except for babies under 2 years of age.
  • Passengers are asked to keep a physical distance of at least 1 metre from the sales counter, at check-in and boarding, and Plexiglas protection is installed wherever possible at airports.
  • Wearing a protective mask is compulsory for staff in contact with passengers and for crew members.
  • Temperature control: The company may deny boarding to passengers who have refused to undergo a temperature control.
  • Hold and cabin baggage: The instructions concerning the number and size of baggage in the cabin and in the hold must be scrupulously respected. https://urlz.fr/5rsh . This helps to promote the strict application of the recommended social distancing measures.
  • Passengers are invited to limit their movements in the cabin and consequently to remain seated in their seats throughout the flight.
  • On-board service is reduced in order to limit interaction between crew members and passengers.
  • The on-board press and magazine LA GAZELLE are no longer available on board to eliminate any risk of contamination.
  • Disembarkation of flights is sequenced by cabin zone in order to respect physical distance.
  • Air filtration in the cabins: Our aircraft are equipped with an air filtration system consisting of high efficiency particulate filters (HEPA). These HEPA filters remove viral and bacterial contaminants, including small ones, down to 0.01 micrometers, ensuring that the air quality in our cabins is fully compliant with health standards.
  • Cleaning of cabins and accessories: We follow strict hygiene procedures. Cabin cleaning of our aircraft is reinforced daily with new protocols for the disinfection of all surfaces in contact with passengers such as armrests, shelves, belts with approved disinfectants.

Finally, it is reminded that passengers are invited to arrive at the airport four hours before the scheduled departure time, in order to have time to go through the sanitary procedures and to have enough time for check-in, baggage drop-off and security control. Thus, to facilitate check-in procedures for departures, the counters will be open 4 hours before the flight and closed 1 hour (60 minutes) before departure. The boarding gate closes 20 minutes before the flight departure time at all airports in Tunisia. The boarding time and the gate number are indicated on your boarding pass and on the various screens”.

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

June 26, 2020: Official: Tunisia obtains the label “Safe Travels”

In an official statement issued on Friday 26 June 2020, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), an international organisation representing the UK-based private tourism and travel sector, announced that Tunisia is now classified as a safe country in terms of health and is ready to receive tourists in complete safety. The Ministry of Tourism has stated, on this occasion, that this classification is the fruit of our country’s success in the fight against the coronavirus, as well as the strategy put in place in order to make this success known throughout the world. He added that the sanitary protocol of the tourist sector and the close collaboration between the Tunisian National Tourist Office (ONTT) and the Tunisia Jobs program set up by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have actively contributed to the promotion of Tunisia as a destination on an international scale. It should be noted that the “Safe Travels” label, which enables travellers to be assured that a country has put in place all the safety and hygiene provisions necessary to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, has already been granted to several destinations, such as Portugal, Turkey, Bulgaria, etc.

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

June 25, 2020: Government Announces New Entry Measures for Tunisia

The Presidency of the Government announced, on Wednesday 24 June, new measures for the entry of newcomers to Tunisia, which depend on the epidemiological situation in the countries of residence, as part of the continuation of efforts to combat the spread of the Coronavirus and the preparations for the opening of land, sea and air borders, starting on Saturday 27 June this year. In a communiqué issued on Wednesday, the Presidency of the Government classified the countries into three distinct groups. The first group includes countries with low epidemic prevalence, the second includes countries with medium epidemic spread, while the third is made up of countries characterized by high spread of the virus. The Presidency of the Government has decided that travellers from the first group of countries will not be subject to specific preventive measures. While arrivals from the second group of countries where the spread of the virus is medium, they will have to present a screening test (RT-PCR), carried out before 72 hours, and not exceeding 120 hours, upon arrival in Tunisia. For travellers from these two groups of countries, (Tunisians or tourists) who wish to stay in a hotel, the presidency of the government has stressed the need to go to the hotel on board tourist buses that comply with the provisions of the Tunisian tourism health protocol, in supervised groups.

These groups will be subject to the requirements of “supervised residence” in hotels, and are called upon to respect the health protocol of Tunisian tourism. Supervised groups of tourists and residents in hotels are allowed to visit museums, monuments and archaeological tourist sites while respecting the health protocol of each site, according to the communiqué. The same source indicates that arrivals wishing to leave the supervised residence may carry out, at their own expense, an RT-PCR analysis at the request of the person concerned or at the request of the country of residence, from the sixth day of the date of entry into Tunisia. Tunisians residing abroad or foreigners from countries in the third group, who have a place of residence in Tunisia, will be required to undertake in writing to self-isolate for 14 days and to undergo another laboratory analysis if symptoms of the disease appear. The RT-PCR analysis is carried out at the request of the person concerned if he or she wishes to leave the self-isolation, at his or her own expense, and from the sixth day of entry into Tunisia.

For the third group of countries, with a high epidemic prevalence, the opening of borders will be limited to Tunisians residing in these countries, provided that they present a laboratory analysis (RT-PCR) carried out 72 hours before arrival in Tunisia, and provided that the date of carrying out the analysis does not exceed 120 hours upon arrival, with the need to observe a compulsory quarantine for a period of 7 days at the expense of the person concerned, and to submit to another laboratory analysis at the expense of the State, while undertaking to observe a self-quarantine period of a further 7 days after this analysis. The Presidency of the Government has indicated that travellers to Tunisia will be asked to fill in a health data form before leaving the airport, port or border post of the country of residence, specifying that this procedure could be carried out electronically. The National Observatory for New and Emerging Diseases will determine the epidemiological situation in the various countries that have ended the general containment period and announced the opening of their borders, on the basis of internationally agreed scientific and epidemiological criteria. This information will be published online in an updated manner on the official website of the Ministry of Health (santetunisie.rns.tn).

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

June 25, 2020: Tunisia excludes Algeria from the country risk classification list

With the reopening of its external borders scheduled for 27 June, Tunisia has decided to exclude Algeria from the COVID-19 risk classification list of countries, according to the Tunisian Observatory for New and Emerging Diseases. The green list drawn up by the Observatory includes countries such as Germany, Italy, Austria, Japan, China, Niger, Ivory Coast, Vietnam, Tajikistan and Laos. On the orange list are countries such as France, Morocco, Canada, Lebanon, Spain, South Korea, Poland or Portugal. It is in this context that the Tunisian Minister of Tourism and Handicraft, Mohamed Ali Toumi, has stressed that Algeria is one of the most important tourist markets for Tunisia and that it should be given special attention, report the local media.

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

June 24, 2020: 4th delivery of COVID-19 equipment by France

After a third emergency delivery of personal protective equipment for the Ministry of National Defense in Tunisia, the French Embassy provided on Tuesday, June 23, heavy medical equipment for resuscitation, usable on the long term. This fourth delivery consisted of two artificial resuscitation respirators worth 20,000 euros each, infrared thermometers, FFP2 masks and several thousand pairs of protective gloves, according to a press release from the French Embassy in Tunisia. All these materials were acquired on the Tunisian market, from Tunisian suppliers, the same source said. The French defense mission is continuing its efforts to finalize the delivery of a third artificial respirator in the coming weeks. The French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, through the Directorate for Security and Defence Cooperation (DCSD), has, in the context of the health crisis, wished to maintain its support to Tunisia in its fight against the COVID-19 epidemic.

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

June 24, 2020: Abdellatif Mekki: The risk of COVID-19 still exists

Tunisia-Tribune (COVID-19 risk) – Health Minister Abdellatif Mekki said Tuesday that “Unlike many countries that have suffered a second wave of Coronavirus without getting out of the first one, Tunisia is currently going through a period of respite which allows a better preparation”. On the sidelines of his participation in an event to launch the projects on “Research and Innovation-COVID-19”, Mekki expressed his “fears regarding the state of slackness that marks the citizens, who are no longer aware of the dangers of the pandemic”, calling on Tunisians to take the necessary precautions and respect the health protocol, during the next two or three months. He warned against the “laxity” observed among citizens, calling for the wearing of masks and respect for social distancing, with the aim of “achieving a success whose value will be even greater than its predecessor”, in view of the current situation and the challenges of reopening borders and resuming economic activities. Regarding the reopening of borders and preparations to welcome tourists and the Tunisian community abroad, Mekki said efforts are focused on planning, which is a difficult task at the stage of the complete opening of borders, adding that the next stage will be difficult, given the balance to be struck between the fight against the spread of COVID-19 and the imperatives of economic recovery.

He added: “This situation requires new protocols involving an exemplary commitment on the part of the authorities, tourists and returning Tunisians”. Mekki explained that all means will be used to ensure protection against the spread of the virus, including mandatory containment, self-quarantine, PCR testing, surveillance and law enforcement to punish those who do not comply with procedures, noting that these preventive measures are included in different and simple protocols and will be announced in detail at a later date. The Minister of Health reiterated his call for caution, including the wearing of masks, social distancing, and the application of various protocols that have been announced and that concern all areas of life, in the workplace and in public places.

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

June 23, 2020: Abdellatif Mekki worried about the slackening of citizens towards the prevention of COVID-19

The Minister of Health, Abdellatif Mekki, expressed on Tuesday his fears regarding the laxity observed among citizens in the prevention against coronavirus. On the sidelines of his participation in an event to launch projects on “the COVID-19 research and renewal program”, Mekki stressed the need to respect preventive measures and adhere to measures against Corona, especially since the risk still exists. The Minister of Health also indicated that all means will be used to monitor Tunisians returning from abroad during their period of self-confinement. Mekki stressed that among the means that will be adopted is the activation of the law to punish all offenders.

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


The Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Slim Choura, said that Tunisia should not continue to play the role of spectator in the face of scientific research undertaken by countries on the Corona virus and expressed his wish that the drug and vaccine be Tunisian. The minister revealed on Mosaique Fm that a project involving around 600 Tunisian experts from several structures working on several projects to develop drugs and vaccines, as well as medical devices, has been allocated an estimated budget of around 4 million dinars, an amount which can be revised upwards. Slim Choura acknowledged the weakness of the scientific research budget, which does not exceed 0.67% of GDP, stressing that the current government includes it in national sovereignty and security. He announced that there is a project to contribute some 20 sectors to the financing of scientific research, in addition to the signing of an agreement with the Tunisian Union of Industry, Commerce and Handicrafts to support innovation and scientific research.

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

June 23, 2020: launch of federated research projects

Selection of 14 federated research projects out of 50 in the COVID-19 R&I program. This is the announcement of Samia Charfi Gdoura, DG of Scientific Research at the Ministry of Higher Education. At a ceremony organized for the launch of these projects, the official said that a budget of 4 MDT has been devoted to the COVID-19 R&I programme. This is for the years 2020 and 2021. She pointed out that the selected projects meet the standards. As such, they will be monitored and evaluated every three months.
In addition, she recalled that a call for proposals for the financing and implementation of these projects was launched in March and May 2020. This is part of the COVID-19 R&I programme. The latter is implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Health. The objective is to encourage researchers to find solutions to the pandemic at several levels. Namely diagnosis, prevention and treatment; in addition to the genetic sequencing of the virus.

Promoting research and innovation in the industrial sector
For his part, the Minister of Higher Education, Slim Choura, said the programme involves about 600 specialists. Such as doctors, researchers, university teachers and doctoral students. With the participation of universities, research centres and economic partners. In addition, the minister pointed out that an agreement will be signed with UTICA. To promote research and innovation in the industrial sector. For his part, the Minister of Health, Abdellatif El Mekki, has evoked his commitment to ensure the support and financing of these projects. While expressing the wish to see Tunisians rewarded at the international level. And this, for their research work, especially since Tunisia has great human skills.

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

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.