August 05 – 07, 2020 | Press Review

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Photo: John S. on Flickr

August 07, 2020: Towards the compulsory wearing of masks

The Council of Ministers, held on Thursday 6 August at the Government Palace in the Kasbah, approved the obligation to wear sanitary masks in a number of areas, which will be determined by decision of the Minister of Health in the coming period. This is according to a press release from the Presidency of the Government. Chaired by the Head of Government in charge of the management of current affairs, Elyès Fakhfakh, the MC decided to multiply awareness campaigns on the need to prevent contamination by the coronavirus, praising the work deployed by the operations room in charge of monitoring the evolution of the health situation as well as the work of the scientific committee at the Ministry of Health. In this regard, Fakhfakh reiterated the need to remain vigilant in monitoring the evolution of the health situation following the increase in the number of imported cases of contamination. Furthermore, the Council stressed the need to ensure coordination between the various players to deal with the phenomenon of irregular migration, and to provide for harsher penalties against the networks organising these operations. Devoted to the examination of the general situation in the country, the Council wished to express Tunisia’s solidarity with the Lebanese people after the tragedy that shook Lebanon following the double explosion that occurred Tuesday in the port of Beirut.

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

August 07, 2020: Nissaf Ben Alaya acknowledges evidence of the spread of local COVID-19 infections

The president of the National Observatory of New and Emerging Diseases, Nissaf Ben Alaya, admitted that there are indicators of the resurgence of local contamination of the coronavirus, which is a dangerous indicator, assuring that the Ministry of Health is working to implement preventive measures to prevent the virus from spreading and entering a second wave. Ben Alia added that this indicator is global, especially since there are countries that have successfully controlled the virus but have entered a second wave of spikes in virus infections. She said at the meeting of the Regional Health Council in Sousse, that there are facilities for several centers that meet the health conditions to house people with corona and other centers to accommodate arrivals from the red zones, adding that there is a sustained work on the part of the accommodation commission at the level of the presidency of the government to prepare for all possible scenarios.

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

August 07, 2020: The 2nd wave is here, let’s get organized to live with the threat!

While the World Health Organization (WHO) confessed a few days ago its powerlessness against the coronavirus COVID-19, Tunisia has entered a second wave of the epidemic caused by this new tenant of planet earth. And still according to the WHO, the hundreds of vaccines in the process of being manufactured seem to be threatened by inefficiency. So many arguments to understand that this virus is, barring big surprises, set to stay with us for several years. We are thus in the situation of a return to square one (that of March 2, 2020, the date of the discovery of the first case of contamination in Tunisia). The reopening of the borders on June 27th has caused a multiplication of imported cases and a constant increase in local or horizontal cases, some of which are of undetermined origin. What solutions are available to us? To repeat what we learned from the “first wave”, but in an intelligent way without destroying our economy this time.

The five urgent measures to be taken: As a first step, all countries should be considered red (for example, Norway has put France on its red list since yesterday, Thursday 6 August) because in the same country there are red and green zones and it would therefore be illogical and diplomatically counterproductive to choose different colours between countries when the epidemic is increasing everywhere. The second is to impose on our nationals or tourists to bring back a PCR test from approved centres whatever country they come from, with sanctions if the test proves to be falsified. The third is the compulsory confinement in centres for a period of 6 days with a test and the rest at home for anyone coming from abroad. The fourth is the closure of important gathering places and the limitation of wedding ceremonies and celebrations to 30 persons. The fifth is to ensure that the population respects social distancing measures and the wearing of protective masks in high-risk areas. Let us therefore stop hugging and shaking hands as we did at the beginning of the pandemic. We must also prepare for targeted confinement of people who are frail and over the age of 65.

Nonchalance with the COVID-19 could be costly: September and October will be decisive months if adequate measures are not taken urgently. Let’s stop wasting time in useless polemics and let’s multiply health advice in all media and in all neighbourhoods. The situation is still controllable, but it will cease to be so if we continue to be nonchalant towards the COVID-19. As we can see, the world’s leading power, the United States in this case, has so far been powerless against the coronavirus and the danger is very present despite the reassuring signs of current mortality, while winter is approaching and no one will be able to predict by then that the pandemic will be more (or less) virulent.

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

06 August, 2020: Call for the strengthening of preventive measures in mosques

The Ministry of Religious Affairs on Thursday called for the imperative to comply with instructions on preventing the spread of “COVID-19” in mosques. The department recommends that worshippers perform ablutions at home, avoid mosque bathrooms and bring their prayer mats. The department also insists on the wearing of bibs and physical distancing. During the first wave of the virus last March, compliance with preventive measures had prevented the spread of the virus in the mockers, the department noted in a statement. The permanent scientific committee in charge of monitoring the spread of the Coronavirus, called Tuesday to raise the level of vigilance and alert to face a possible evolution of the sanitary situation in the country, especially with the increase of cases of local contamination since the opening of borders on June 27.

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

August 05, 2020: Wearing a mask is now mandatory everywhere

Tunisia has just imposed the wearing of masks in all indoor and outdoor public spaces. It is the first country to take this decision for the whole territory. The Tunisian Ministry of Health announced Wednesday August 5 the obligation to wear a sanitary mask in all public spaces, under penalty of sanctions, in order to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. This measure applies to all public spaces, closed and open air, throughout the territory, the Ministry of Health told AFP. Sanctions, to be defined on Thursday at a ministerial council, will be imposed on offenders.

51 deaths only since the start of the epidemic: Some 1,585 cases have been officially declared since the beginning of March, including 51 deaths. According to the ministry, 306 people are still carrying the virus, nine of whom are hospitalized. Today, less than one person in 200,000 Tunisians has died from COVID-19. Tunisia, whose economy depends heavily on tourism, took early and strict measures at the start of the epidemic, including restrictions on travel within the country and the closure of borders on March 16. But the reopening on 27 June was carried out without specific precautions imposed on travellers from countries classified as “green”, including France, Italy or Great Britain. Since then, officially reported cases have been on the rise.

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

August 05, 2020: More than 39% of the deceased in Tunisia were over 65 years old.

More than 39% of those who died in Tunisia as a result of COVID-19 were over 65 years old, Nissaf Ben Alaya, director of the National Observatory of New and Emerging Diseases, said Wednesday. At a press conference held at the Ministry of Health, Ben Alaya said that since June 27, 2020, the date of the reopening of borders and the lifting of total containment, 346 imported cases (the majority arrived by land and several are irregular migrants) and 66 indigenous cases have been identified. Three circles of contamination were detected: in Sousse (8 cases), at the airport (26 cases) and in Kairouan (8 cases). According to Nissaf Ben Alaya, all samples taken from people close to these cases were negative and there were no new cases of contamination.
In this context, she reported that control and screening measures have been strengthened during this last period especially as we are approaching a high-risk winter season (seasonal influenza, bronchiolitis season in children and the spread of several other viruses affecting the respiratory system). “We must therefore be more vigilant and respect the sectoral health protocols while ensuring that the premises are disinfected,” she said. Ben Alaya stressed that the country will no longer tolerate a new containment that has a significant psychological and economic impact. “In order to live with the virus and slow its spread, we must intensify screening, be vigilant and respect the health protocol,” she added. It should be noted that as of 3 August 2020, Tunisia has recorded 1,584 confirmed cases, of which 1,227 patients have recovered, 51 have died and 306 cases are still carrying the virus, 9 of whom are hospitalized. Among the hospitalized, two are currently in a critical case according to Nissaf Ben Alaya.

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

August 05, 2020: Closure of 24 shops in Kairouan

The regional director of health in Kairouan assured that the city authorities decided on Wednesday to close 24 shops including hairdressing salons, bakeries and a pharmacy, after they were frequented by patients carrying the virus. The regional director added that his services began, on Wednesday, a vast campaign to test the virus among the inhabitants of the city, after the appearance of several local contaminations without the contaminating patient having been identified.

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