July 06 – 12, 2020 | Press Review

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Photo: John S. on Flickr

July 12, 2020: Escape of six infected illegal migrants at COVID-19 from Chaâmbi camp

Six illegal migrants, subject to mandatory quarantine for Coronavirus infection, escaped from the Chaâmbi campsite on Saturday. National Guard units are currently conducting sweep operations in the area and nearby residential areas to arrest them, according to a security source. A seventh foreigner was also injured in the hands after jumping from the roof of the Chaâmbi camping centre and was taken to the Kasserine regional hospital for first aid. These foreigners crossed the border between Algeria and Tunisia clandestinely.

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July 11, 2020: COVID-19 laboratory at Djerba hospital now functional

The director of the hospital in Djerba, Salem Issa said Friday, July 10, 2020, that the biological laboratory at the hospital devoted to the analysis of tests for the COVID-19 virus started, Thursday, its activities by receiving 38 samples taken from people from the governorate of Tataouine. In a statement granted to the TAP agency, the official stressed that this new laboratory covers the region of Medenine and Tataouine.
This structure is the result of a collaboration between the public and private sector to fight against the spread of Coronavirus, he said at the same source, adding that several Tunisians from Djerba who live abroad have contributed through donations to the acquisition of equipment with an envelope of 300 thousand dinars. In addition, he said that the laboratory is currently provided by two technicians and a volunteer biologist from the private sector. It can process in a single session 48 samples, he added. In this context, the person in charge assured that this unit will be exploited in the examination of other types of analyses as soon as the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

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July 11, 2020: The impact of COVID-19 on the Tourism sector in Tunisia, according to Fi2T

The Tunisian Interprofessional Federation of Tourism (Fi2T) presented, on Friday 10 July 2020, the conclusions of a survey carried out by the Quantylix firm among its members (guest houses, travel agencies, golf courses, thalassotherapy centres…), carried out over the period from 22 to 27 June, in order to measure the impact of the crisis during and after the containment, as well as the prospects for the sector as estimated by the members. Before the confinement, 47% of the members already have a negative cash flow as they are generally small and fragile structures (72% of the respondents have a total staff of 5 people or less). During confinement, the average loss of turnover is estimated at 83%; 14% say they have still not received the 200 TD per employee promised by the State; travel agencies consider that the State measures are unsuitable for their activity; one member out of two (53%) considers that there is a total absence of accompanying measures from the State in their regard; one member out of four (24%) considers the procedures put in place by the State as complicated, too slow and insufficient; 72.5% of the companies participating in the survey say they are not satisfied with the State measures.

After the confinement, 48% of the members had to lay off part of their staff during or after the confinement; companies in difficulty laid off an average of 71% of their staff; the sector lost 32% of its staff; the thalassotherapy centres have the highest rate of lay-offs (80%) followed by travel agencies (50%) and 70% of the members have started to reopen with negative cash flow. The Quantylix study ends with an estimate of the sector’s prospects: 89% of companies estimate that the drop in activity will last “several months and may last up to a year”; 51% of respondents hope to obtain loans guaranteed by the State and 44% think that the delay or exemption from employers’ charges may be one of the best solutions to save themselves from this crisis. In conclusion, the president of Fi2T, Houssem Ben Azouz, stressed that despite this unfavorable economic situation, it is high time to start the reforms relating to the product, governance and digitalization, planned for the sector.
for several years.

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10 July, 2020: Nissaf Ben Alaya calls for vigilance against COVID-19 infection among illegal migrants

The Director General of the National Observatory of New and Emerging Diseases, Nissaf Ben Alaya warned Friday that the lack of vigilance regarding the infiltration of new cases of Coronavirus with a number of irregular migrants in Tunisia could lead to the return of episodes of local infections. Ben Alaya said in a statement to the TAP news agency that the Ministry of Health is working in cooperation with the Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs to strengthen the management of imported Corona virus infections by irregular migrants crossing the Tunisian border illegally, noting that the number of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa with confirmed Coronavirus infection has reached around 20 patients. She revealed that medical teams carry out laboratory tests for all migrants who sneak into the border governorates, stressing that those migrants are cared for and receive health care, while those confirmed to be infected are subjected to 14 days of confinement in a centre until they recover from the disease.

During the period from 4 to 17 June, Tunisia recorded 72 imported cases of Corona, broken down as follows: 63 Tunisians, 9 of other nationalities, while the number of imported infections during the period from 18 to 26 June was 38 cases, 17 Tunisians and 21 of other nationalities. The number of patients arriving during the period from June 27 to July 9, reached 31, including 20 Tunisians returning from abroad, while the rest of the infections concern other nationalities, according to data provided by the director of the National Observatory of New and Emerging Diseases, noting that attacks were discovered in foreign students.

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July 09, 2020: More Coronavirus in Tunisia, according to the Minister of Health

Tunisia no longer has any cases of local coronaviruses, Health Minister Abdellatif Mekki announced on Thursday, July 9, 2020, at a press briefing in the company of Tourism Minister Mohamed Ali Toumi. According to the minister, no case of local or horizontal contamination has been recorded for forty days now. Random tests on a sample of 3,000 people on the island of Djerba carried out by the ministry have all been negative, Abdellatif Mekki said, praising the efforts of the medical corps. It should be recalled that the island of Djerba had been classified as a risk area at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic after an outbreak was discovered in the region.

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July 08, 2020: Electronic platform to register for PCR analysis, set up by the Institut Pasteur

The Pasteur Institute of Tunis launches from this Wednesday, July 8, 2020, an electronic platform for remote registration in order to obtain an appointment to perform a laboratory analysis, “PCR”, to detect the Corona virus for the benefit of travelers going abroad. The director general of the Pasteur Institute of Tunis, Hachemi Louzir, said that the Institute has begun to conduct laboratory analysis “PCR” for the benefit of travelers abroad and who wish to obtain negative results of the analysis to be to present them to airlines and shipping companies to enable them to travel or to the authorities of the countries where they will travel. He stressed that the purpose of launching this platform is to avoid congestion and to help citizens to focus on their own business with regard to travel procedures that require the traveller to obtain a negative “PCR” laboratory test proving that he or she is virus-free. The Director of the Institute revealed that a fee of 209 dinars has been approved for a single laboratory test, which is within the limits of the value of carrying out this test. Anyone wishing to carry out this laboratory analysis to check that it is free of the Corona virus can obtain a remote appointment for the taking of a sample by registering on the electronic platform of the Pasteur Institute Tunisia, http://rdvanalyses.pasteur.tn/covid-19, according to him, stressing the need to carry out this analysis 72 days before the trip. Hechmi Louzir explained that those who obtain an appointment will be called to collect their samples on site, adding that they will later receive a username and password allowing them to access the platform http://www.resultats.pasteur.tn and retrieve the result of the analysis remotely within 48 hours.

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July 08, 2020: Tunisia will be hit hard by the current crisis in OECD countries

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing a much more serious jobs crisis than the one that followed the 2008 crisis, estimates the 2020 edition of the OECD’s Employment Outlook, and this will not be without consequences for Tunisia, whose economy is 60-70% dependent on Europe. According to the report, women, young people and low-income workers are hardest hit and the unemployment rate in OECD countries reached 8.4% in May 2020, up from 5.2% in February (+3.4%). The number of job seekers in the area reached 54.5 million in May. Worse still, even in the most optimistic scenario of the pandemic’s evolution, the unemployment rate in OECD countries as a whole could reach 9.4% in the fourth quarter of 2020, surpassing all the peaks recorded since the Great Depression of 1929. Reacting to this worrying data, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said: “Building on the swift and decisive action that was initially taken in response to the COVID-19 crisis, countries must now do everything possible to prevent this jobs crisis from turning into a widespread social crisis. Macroeconomic policies need to remain supportive of economic activity throughout the crisis in order to minimize the risk of a prolonged recession and a lost generation of young people whose employment prospects are permanently compromised. Meanwhile, rebuilding a better and more resilient labour market is a key investment for the future of the next generations”. While the impact of the pandemic on the economies of developed countries will reach these dangerous peaks, it is imagined that for less well-off countries, moreover, which were in crisis long before COVID-19, such as Tunisia, where the unemployment rate today exceeds 15%, the situation could be even more serious, if not dramatic. “The stakes are high: additional unemployment in OECD countries will reduce European demand because of a lack of purchasing power. It is understandable that Tunisia will suffer because it will no longer be able to export as much as before or bring in as many tourists by 2021,” explains an economic expert. He adds: “Neither can Tunisia export as usual as much manpower (engineers, doctors, workers or even illegal migrants)”. The risk of a second wave of COVID-19, scheduled for next autumn and winter, will not help the situation for Tunisia, whose leaders must prepare for all these scenarios and take action accordingly. Social and even political tensions could make the situation uncontrollable.

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

July 07, 2020: EBRD to provide financial support to Tunisia’s tourism sectors

Mr. Khalil Dinguizli, Acting Head of the EBRD Office, and Anis Al Fahem, Head of the SME Support Programme of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), expressed yesterday in Tunis the intention of his institution to support the revival of the tourism sector in Tunisia, impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The representative of the EBRD in Tunisia has agreed, in this sense, with the Minister of Tourism and Handicrafts Mohamed Ali Toumi who received him, at the headquarters of the Ministry, to hold a second meeting as soon as possible to examine the means capable of providing the necessary financial support to the tourism and handicraft sectors during the coming stage. Since the start of its activities in Tunisia in 2012, the Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has contributed to the implementation of 46 projects, with an estimated investment of 934 million euros.

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July 07, 2020: WHO provides disturbing information

Scientists told the New York Times that they have been able to prove that the Coronavirus could spread through very small particles in the air. The disease is transmitted primarily from person to person through respirable droplets expelled through the nose or mouth when a sick person coughs, sneezes or talks. However, according to this discovery, there is another way of transmitting the disease. It is through the particles that come out with the exhaled air. As a result of this information, the World Health Organization (WHO) has prepared a report stating that the information on COVID-19 needs to be updated.

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July 06, 2020: COVID-19, second wave: this is how Tunisia will face it according to Mekki

The risks of a second wave of contaminations of the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19) are on all languages. Once again, the Minister of Health, Abdelatif Mekki, has warned against this wave, indicating that it could happen in the fall of 2020. Speaking on Al Watanya 1 on the evening of Monday, July 6, 2020, Mekki returned to the method that will be applied to deal with this second wave of contamination by COVID-19. “We are not going to implement containment. In fact, among other things, we are going to change the protocols,”he said. The Ministry of Health will be deploying the necessary resources to prepare for a second wave of contamination by the disease. This is, moreover, what the Director General of Health, Tahar Gargha said in a statement granted to the TAP agency.

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