August 16 – 22, 2020 | Press Review Tunisia

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Photo: John S. Flickr

August 22, 2020: A COVID-19 test will be required for CTN passengers arriving in Tunisia.

In a press release published this Saturday morning, the Tunisian Navigation Company announced that a PCR test with COVID-19 of less than 120 hours will be required for arrivals on Tunisian territory. It is specified that this test is also compulsory for passengers in private in the green zones.

The same press release underlines that these measures are applicable for North/South crossings scheduled from 25 August 2020 until further notice.

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

August 22, 2020: 124 local contaminations with COVID-19 and four new deaths

The number of people tested positive for COVID-19 in Tunisia has reached 2,738 cases out of a total of 122,899 screenings carried out since the beginning of the pandemic, announced the Ministry of Health, in its report published Saturday, August 22, 2020.

124 new local cases have been recorded and seven imported cases. Four new deaths have also been recorded (one in Ariana, two in Ben Arous and one in Gabes).

As of 21 August, 1,434 people had recovered, 1,336 active contaminations, treated in centres set up for this purpose, and 68 deaths.

Since 27 June, when the borders reopened, 1,534 cases have been recorded, of which 475 were imported, 1,060 local (69%) and 18 deaths (1.1%). 37 patients are currently being treated in hospitals (2.7%), 9 of whom are admitted to intensive care (0.58%). The number of people showing symptoms of the disease is 149 (9.7%).

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

21 August, 2020: El Hamma, disaster-stricken city

In El Hamma, coffins are already being prepared to transport the COVID-19 casualties, while the epidemic is exploding in this region, where five people have already died. In this city, panic is omnipresent to the point that citizens are demanding the establishment of a curfew to limit the spread of the virus.

This city, once a haven of peace, surprising by its diversity and its green setting that provides its visitors with all the ingredients for good fortune, sweet sensations, but also peace and meditation, is now a disaster-stricken city where the shadow of death hangs over the city. Indeed, El Hamma is the area most contaminated by the new coronavirus with more than 400 cases. The epidemic is hitting this small town hard, with five people already dead in the last 24 hours.

Hidden in their homes, the inhabitants are afraid, and no one understands why such a high level of contamination has hit this town, which is known, alas, for its poor sanitary infrastructure.

According to the inhabitants, it is the arrival of a few asymptomatic Italian carriers of the virus who visited a textile factory to repair some machinery that is believed to have caused a large-scale contagion among the female workers who have acted as the transmission belts for the virus among their families and other inhabitants of the city. It has not been possible to verify this thesis at this time.

Calls for help

The day before yesterday, the president of the municipality of El Hamma, Nasef Ben Najeh, launched a cry of distress for help to the city of El Hamma. He said that the local hospital refuses to accept the patients who have gathered at the front door. Ben Najeh also assured that the services of the Civil Protection refuse to take care of patients with the virus and refer them to the Samu services who were not available.

This is what prompted the city’s municipal services, according to Ben Najeh, to transport patients by their own means for testing. He further indicated that the military field hospital does not have a counterpart within the public hospital for the coordination and implementation of operations for the care of patients by the military medical corps.

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

20 August, 2020: In Tunisia, a vicious circle of penalties opens the doors to exploitation of irregular migrants

“The arrival of migrants on the territory is generally regular, thanks to an entry visa or a visa waiver allowing them to stay for 3 months. However, in the absence of a work permit and a residence permit for work purposes, the migrant worker quickly falls into an irregular residence status.

An irregular migrant in Tunisia, accumulates penalties of 20 DT per week, which could increase to 3000 DT, and is liable to detention before being expelled from the territory. This irregular status has harmful consequences for migrants on several levels: it prevents them from exercising employment under formal and decent conditions, including social security and access to health care; it prevents the migrant from having access to justice since in the event of an assault or dispute he will be afraid to turn to the authorities.

Without the possibility of regularization of their situation, irregular status keeps migrants in a precarious situation from which they cannot see a way out, and whose accumulation of vulnerabilities can ultimately undermine their mental health. »

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

August 19, 2020: Migration-Tunisia-Italy, a deceptive deal!

Discreetly leaked, the arrangement that the Italian Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Interior have just sealed with the President of the Tunisian Republic and the future head of government regarding Tunisian irregular migrants is still being kept quiet in the Carthage Palace. It was only the working session at which it would have been negotiated, and this was done through a communiqué that very much highlighted the insistence of the Head of State Kais Saied on the importance of establishing “greater cooperation to address the root causes of migration”.

Under the watchful eye of the two witnesses, European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson and European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Oliver Varhelji, the Italian plenipotentiaries promised Tunisia around 11 million euros to reduce the flow of migrants to the coasts of the Peninsula, mainly the island of Lampedusa, which has increased considerably in recent months. Recently, more than 700 people landed on the island.

The majority are young people, who are leaving their country in search of a better life. Tunisia is experiencing economic difficulties, offering few opportunities for young people, and the coronavirus has further aggravated the situation, hitting its important tourism sector.

A partnership, what partnership?

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said he wanted to “strengthen the partnership [between Italy and Tunisia] for shared development”. He also assured that Rome is planning to “propose a major pact for Tunisian youth, an integrated plan with a special focus on young people”. However, he said the partnership “must be carried by both parties”, adding that Rome expects “full collaboration and rapid results in the fight against immigration”.

Agreeing with this, his colleague from the Interior Ministry, Luciana Lamorgese, while stressing that “Tunisia is not alone”, said that “we are ready to take all the necessary initiatives to support it in terms of help and tools to control illegal immigration”. But, she added, an extra effort must be made, because the pressure on our country, particularly on Lampedusa and Sicily, is creating an extremely serious situation, aggravated by the COVID-19 health emergency″.

Before the planned EUR 11 million plan can enter into force, Tunisia must form a new government, which should take place in the next few days. Italy wants Tunisia to work with a computerised system that would alert the Tunisian police when boats carrying migrants are at sea, so that they can stop them in Tunisian waters. The money is also intended to finance the maintenance of patrol boats, training of local security forces and the installation of new radar systems. Italy would also expect an increase in the weekly number of people deported to Italy, which currently stands at 80.

So much for that!

Didn’t we ask too much of Tunisia for so little in return? In short, this is a fool’s bargain full of loopholes. Others had demanded a thousand times that amount to keep watch and prevent migrants, who are not their nationals, from reaching European borders and coasts. Colonel Muamar Gaddafi and Turkish President Erdogan demands were met although the Europeans did not get their money’s worth, as the execution of the contracts was marred by numerous turns.

The Italian offer to Tunisia was all the more incomprehensible in that it was preceded by strong pressure and even threats, such as the one made by the head of Italian diplomacy not to disburse an envelope of some EUR 5 million, in addition to press statements in the same commanding tone. Has Tunisia, represented by the first two state officials, accepted in the face of this intimidation to make do with such a miserable offer, and promises that no one knows whether they will be kept? we can cite for example, the financing by the European Union of a “great plan for Tunisian youth”, with the added commitment that the EU “will do its best to support the Tunisian economy”.

Let us conclude, however, on the Italian Foreign Affairs Minister’s very well-feeling take-off: “Tunisia is considered a safe place. There are no people fleeing the war there. Therefore, if Tunisians try to reach Italy illegally, they can only be repatriated. Tunisians will appreciate it!

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

August 19, 2020: It is neither with approximation nor with trial and error that we will be able to get out of this situation.

Could the glory of the Ministry of Health team that fought the Coronavirus last spring be turning into a vague and nostalgic memory? This seems to be the case, with the build-up in recent weeks of underperformance that has led to a resurgence of new infections that have reached numbers not seen in the first wave of the epidemic.

Indeed, for the past few weeks, members of the same team that claimed credit for defeating the Covid ogre and beating the world’s biggest powers to the punch, have been at a loss as to what to do and when to do it.

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

August 19, 2020: Negative RT PCR test now mandatory for all newcomers

Current situation requires it: Negative PCR test is now mandatory to enter Tunisia.

The acting Minister of Health, Habib Kachaou announced on Wednesday, August 19, 2020, that the government has decided to impose a negative PCR test on anyone wishing to enter Tunisia.

This measure will be applied for all countries, regardless of the classification of the zone (green, orange or red).

This decision was taken following an upsurge in local contamination following contact with people from countries classified in the green zone, who have been entering Tunisia since 27 June this year without the obligation of RT PCR testing and quarantine.

It should be recalled in this regard that since the reopening of borders on 27 June, the Scientific Committee for the Fight against Coronavirus has been classifying countries according to the level of risk of contamination in three zones (red, green and orange). This classification is regularly updated.

Travellers coming from countries classified in the orange zone must present the negative RT PCR test and are placed in mandatory confinement for one week at home. Travellers from countries classified in the red zone must present a negative RT PCR test and are placed in compulsory confinement for 14 days (7 days in a specialised centre and 7 days at home).

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

For more information on the classification of countries based on their epidemiological situation, please consult the following link.

August 17, 2020: Toumi in Sfax-“We need to establish a strategy for coexistence with the coronavirus, without resorting to containment.”

Toumi told the media on the sidelines of a two-day visit to the governorate of Sfax, that this strategy will help to alleviate the difficulties that the citizen may encounter during the next fall.

He indicated that the arrival of more than 70 thousand tourists in Tunisia during the last period, testifies to the success of the country’s promotional strategy and to the success of the action taken to combat the coronavirus.

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

August 17, 2020: New local contaminations in Jendouba, Kairouan and Gabes

New local cases of covid19 contamination were recorded over the weekend in various regions.

In Jendouba governorate, three local contaminations were detected out of 39 tests carried out on people who were in contact with a covid19 patient in Bousalem.

The new cases (three women) will be transported on Monday and placed in a containment centre in Tunis, the regional health director in Jendouba Mohamed Rouis told the TAP Agency.

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

August 16, 2020: More than 1300 disinfection operations carried out in public spaces in Tunis.

More than 1,300 disinfection operations have been carried out in public spaces and administrations in Tunis since the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic, the director of Hygiene and Environmental Protection at the municipality of Tunis, Omar Enneifer, said on Sunday.

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