July 22 – 28, 2020 | Press Review

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Photo: John S. on Flickr

July 28, 2020: Jendouba: American donation of medical equipment to the hospitals of Tabarka and Kef

The United States on Monday donated medical equipment to regional hospitals in Tabarka (Jendouba) and Kef (north-west Tunisia) to strengthen their capacity to combat the spread of COVID-19. Funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, the donation includes personal protection kits including protective suits, masks and hydro-alcoholic solution gels. “The United States is committed to working with the Tunisian government to support it in its effort against the spread of COVID-19,” said U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia Donald Blome, praising Tunisia’s experience in its fight against COVID-19, at a ceremony at the Tabarka Regional Hospital for the delivery of the medical equipment. In this regard, the Regional Director of Public Health of Jendouba, Mohamed Rouis, highlighted the importance of this equipment for hospitals in the region, in the face of fears of a second wave of contamination.

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

July 27, 2020: New anti-propagation procedures for COVID-19 in Tunisia

Following the development of the epidemiological situation due to the spread of the new Corona virus in all regions of the world and Tunisia, and following the registration of new cases of infection among people coming from abroad and being in self-quarantine at home, and in order to avoid the spread of the virus in our country, it was decided:
-The necessity of obligatory quarantine procedures for every member of a family coming from countries not on the green or orange list, including children under 12 years of age.
-The need to require each family member from an Orange list country that has not been able to perform RT-PCR testing, including children under 12 years of age, to comply with mandatory sanitary quarantine for a period of at least three (03) days until the services of the Ministry of Health have performed the required test at the expense of the expatriate, and in case of negative results they will allow the expatriate to implement sanitary self-quarantine procedures.

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

July 27, 2020: Health care system prepares to deal with a new rise in COVID-19 cases

Second part of our series on Tunisia. The country is doing well in managing the coronavirus pandemic with 1,455 cases, including 50 deaths so far. One month after the reopening of the borders, the vast majority of the newly registered cases are imported. The country is currently going through a period of lull in the health crisis even though new cases are appearing every day, three for example on 27 July, two of which are imported. The authorities therefore remain vigilant and the health system is already preparing for a possible second wave of the epidemic.

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

July 26, 2020: In Mahdia, 4 Sub-Saharans infect a doctor

The Mahdia regional health department announced, this Sunday, July 26, 2020, a new local case of coronavirus contamination. It concerns a doctor working in a private clinic, who was contaminated following a contact with 4 sub-Saharan patients. According to Samir Lahouel, head of preventive health at the regional health directorate, the doctor examined four people from Niger. They were later found to be COVID-19 positive. The patients will be transferred to the COVID-19 centre in Monastir, and an epidemiological investigation will be opened within the doctor’s family, the manager added.

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

July 25, 2020: We must prepare for a new wave

Today, the observation is very striking: Tunisia is no longer afraid of the coronavirus, don’t think about it anymore. And it even seems to like it, stubbornly not taking the trouble to listen to the incessant calls for vigilance launched day and night by the authorities. The authorities, visibly impotent and pantoise, cannot believe that more than 90% of Tunisians do not care anymore: masks thrown in the trash or put away in the drawer, total disrespect for distance, monster jostling on public transport, in shopping streets, in markets and supermarkets, in cafés, bars and restaurants. In short, wherever there is a living soul, the famous national pandemic prevention plan, although still theoretically in force, is practically no longer in use, and is of no interest to anyone (or almost no interest), as if our country has achieved the worldwide feat of discovering a vaccine against COVID-19! Worrying signs: And yet, if you look closely, one thing is clearer than crystal clear: we are not yet out of the woods, and, without pretending to play the dramatist, we can evoke the hypothesis of a new wave of the coronavirus within our walls. A hypothesis that it would be suicidal to dismiss, its signs being today clear and worrying. Firstly, by keeping up the pressure on the population, the authorities betray a conviction that the game is not over and that it would be crazy to shout victory too soon. It is no coincidence that the experts from the Ministry of Health, in charge of this battle, do not hesitate to rely on a second half.

Secondly, the reopening of the borders and the resumption of tourism have not been spared the flaws. Indeed, Tunisian passengers returning home continue to violate the instructions of the confinement, either by not submitting to another test during their stay, or simply by … fleeing the accommodation centers, most often against hard currency demanded by a new mafia of intermediaries. And there, if the cases of desertion are no longer counted, we strangely have no news from the organizers of these fugues with serious consequences. Thirdly, next month probably looks busier for our hoteliers who, given the rising booking curve, expect a good comeback from tourists. Hence the half-veiled mistrust of the authorities to register cases of contamination. In addition to these three factors, it is inevitable to add the galloping spread of the coronavirus in Europe and the United States and, even more worryingly, in neighbouring countries (Algeria and Libya), and to think that all these regions constitute the backbone of Tunisian tourism. In short, to say that Tunisia is under the threat of a new offensive of the pandemic is a gloomy and macabre prospect, but we must have the courage to accept it, since several countries in the world have had to, no doubt with death in their souls for having minimized the danger of the coronavirus, set their sights on reconfinement. Even if it means imposing fines on those who disregard preventive measures, particularly with regard to the wearing of masks. It doesn’t just happen to other people, does it?

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

July 24, 2020: Coronavirus infection of 04 foreigners in a clinic in Mahdia

Four new Coronavirus infections of Niger nationals, who came to Mahdia in the framework of hospital health and admitted to a private clinic were registered on Friday, July 24, 2020, announced the head of preventive health at the regional health directorate of Mahdia, Samir Lahouel. Lahouel explained that 5 Nigeriens came to Mahdia on July 15, in one of the city’s clinics, noting that they were subjected, upon their arrival in Tunisia, to laboratory tests that proved the absence of infection with the virus. Lahouel said that after a week’s stay at the Mahdia clinic, they were subjected to further laboratory tests to investigate Corona. The results confirmed the infection of 4 of them, stressing that the patients will not be transferred to the COVID-19 centre in Monastir, but will be kept at the clinic. Lahouel assured that 42 direct contacts of these patients have been identified and subjected to an auto-quarantine for 48 hours, after which tests will be carried out.

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

July 23, 2020: 54.3% Private sector companies say they are at risk of closing down or are uncertain, according to a joint study by the INS and IFC.

The Institut National de la Statistique (INS) of Tunisia, in collaboration with IFC (a member of the World Bank Group), launched a survey to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the private sector. This survey questioned Tunisian companies on the following themes: their state of operation during the COVID-19 pandemic, the evolution of factors impacting their activity, the measures available to them to deal with the crisis, the adjustment mechanisms put in place, the sustainability of activities and the existence and use of Business Continuity Plans, as well as the expectations and uncertainties of these companies. 2,500 private sector companies have been covered and all key sectors of the Tunisian economy have been integrated in order to identify the sectors most at risk. The study will enable Tunisia’s results to be compared with other countries that participated in the BPS survey.

Among the main results, the survey shows that the private sector has suffered serious disruptions related to COVID-19, but most companies are reopened as of June 30.

  • 88.7% of businesses were open: 24.5% of establishments remained open without interruption and 64.2% of businesses reopened after an interruption.
  • 10.8% of companies were temporarily closed: 8.1% by company decision and 2.7% by government decision
  • 0.4% of companies were permanently closed: 0.3% because of COVID-19 and 0.1% for other reasons.

We also learned that 54.3% of the companies stated that they were at risk of closure or were uncertain under the current conditions. The study also reveals that 74.2% of businesses in the accommodation, food and coffee sector report that they are at risk of closure or are uncertain under current conditions. Fewer than half of the businesses say they can sustain their business beyond the 12-month horizon. In terms of revenues, 88.8% of businesses experienced a decline in revenues while 6.3% reported no change and only 2.2% of businesses reported an increase. As for the impact on employment, as of April 2020, the COVID-19 crisis had a limited impact on formal employment: most of the adjustments were temporary leaves and salary reductions. Furthermore, 50.1% of companies did not make any adjustments, 18.7% took leave with pay, 9.6% took leave without pay. 11.5% of enterprises made wage reductions and 4.3% made hour reductions. Finally, only 4.5% of businesses made layoffs and 1.2% hired new employees.

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

July 23, 2020: The number of Algerian and Libyan tourists falls by 56% in the first half of 2020

In the midst of the health crisis, Tunisia has lost half of its tourist appeal towards Algeria and Libya, the number of tourists coming from these two countries having fallen, in the first half of 2020, by 56% compared to the same period in 2019, Moez Ben Hassine, Director General of the Tunisian National Tourist Office (ONTT) revealed on Wednesday. On the sidelines of a meeting in Tunis on measures to boost tourism in the post-coronavirus phase, Mr Ben Hassine said that Tunisia was hosting about 5 million tourists from Algeria and Libya. According to him, among the various measures taken by the Tunisian government to curb the impact of COVID-19 on tourism, an agreement with the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT) has been signed to preserve the salaries of employees in the tourism sector. In this context, a line of credit of 500 million dinars ($178 million) has been allocated to help tourism enterprises overcome the crisis and preserve jobs, he added.

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

July 22, 2020: Tourism: Vertiginous drop in arrivals in Tunisia in 2020 (Statistics)

All sectors of activity in Tunisia, like other countries around the world, are currently experiencing an unprecedented economic crisis due to the spread of the new coronavirus COVID-19. However, it would seem that the Tourism sector is the most affected sector due in particular to the suspension for several months of all tourist activities and the closure of the borders of the various countries. Indeed, the figures recently provided by the Tunisian National Tourist Office (ONTT) speak volumes about the catastrophic repercussions of this global health crisis on this sector, which contributed 13.8% to the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019. A total of 1,366,958 travellers arrived in Tunisia between last January 1 and current July 10, a 67% drop compared to the same period in 2019 (4,148,142). The number of Tunisians residing abroad who visited Tunisia during this period amounts to 281,105, a decrease of 59.1% compared to the same period in 2019 (687,320).

According to the same statistics of which Réalités Online has obtained a copy, 1,085,853 foreign passengers have arrived in Tunisia since January 1, 2010, i.e. a decrease of 68.6% compared to the same period in 2019 when Tunisia welcomed 3,460,822 tourists. According to the same document, the French, Russian, German and English markets appear on the list of markets which have experienced a dizzying drop compared to the previous year. Indeed, the French market recorded a 74% drop compared to the same period in 2019. Only 109,457 passengers from France visited Tunisia during the period from 1 January to 10 July against 421,166 during the same period in 2019. The same applies to the Russian market which increased from 256.145 passengers to 1452. It should be noted that Tunisia has reopened its air, sea and land borders since June 27th. The sector is therefore starting to breathe slowly thanks to the arrival of a few thousand tourists and Tunisians residing abroad without of course forgetting the local market on which the authorities and professionals are betting to save what can be saved.

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

July 22, 2020: One third of Tunisians repatriated from Algeria infected

Tunisians who were stranded in Algeria have returned to their countries massively infected with the new coronavirus, as did the Algerian binationals returning to France before them. After the Algerian binationals repatriated to France, a large proportion of whom carry the virus, it is now Tunisia’s turn to be affected by a similar phenomenon, again coming from Algeria. The second operation to repatriate Tunisians stranded in Algeria is due to be carried out today, Wednesday 22 July, but the Tunisian authorities are on the verge of war because the
The first operation had given them some very unpleasant surprises. According to the information site Destination Med, of the 59 Tunisians coming from Algeria 19 tested positive to COVID-19, a rate of 32.20% or nearly one in three. Moreover, the test results of 32 others remain pending. Only 7 were clearly negative.

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