September 14 – 21, 2020 | Press Review Tunisia

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Photo: John S. on Flickr

September 21, 2020: Opening of a new COVID-19 containment center in Monastir.

The general coordinator of the containment centers for COVID-19 patients, Chawki Loussif announced, this Sunday, September 20, 2020, the opening of a new COVID-19 center in the tourist area of Monastir, with a capacity of 200 beds. In a statement granted to the agency TAP, Loussif said that this center was created by decision of the Minister of Health after the number of patients in self-confinement has reached 500 of which 15 are in critical condition. It should be noted that this regional patient accommodation center COVID-19 is the second of its kind in the tourist area of Monastir. The first, which has a capacity of 150 patients, is now saturated.

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

September 21, 2020: Installation of an analysis laboratory in Sidi Bouzid on the instructions of Kaïs Saïed.

On the instructions of the President of the Republic, and supreme head of the armed forces, Kaïs Saïed, a laboratory for analysis related to the Coronavirus was installed on Sunday, September 20, in Sidi Bouzid. In a statement made public yesterday afternoon, the presidency indicated that “if the results of the analyses that will start in the next few hours require the setting up of a field hospital, this will be done as soon as possible”. According to the latest regional epidemiological report, this governorate of central Tunisia has 127 patients still carrying Covid-19, the virus has caused 5 deaths.

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

September 21, 2020: “There is no need to return to general containment” (Mechichi)

The head of the government, Hichem Mechichi, said on Monday, September 21, that “there is no need to return to the general confinement”. This statement sounds like a response to those who advocate a return to containment, to curb the spread of COVID-19, which has gone up again in the last period, in an alarming manner. He affirmed that the epidemiological situation would require everyone to apply the measures of the sanitary protocol with firmness, including the wearing of masks, the use of disinfectant gel and physical distancing. In a media statement on the sidelines of his participation in the Ambassadors’ Conference, Mechichi called for the need to establish the mechanisms of economic diplomacy, in order to mobilize aid, donations and soft credits to deal with the Coronavirus.

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

September 20, 2020: A record of 625 cases and 17 deaths in 24 hours

The Ministry of Health announced Sunday, September 19 in its daily bulletin that as of September 17, 2020, 625 new coronavirus contaminations have been recorded out of a total of 3886 tests, bringing the total to 9736 confirmed cases, or 16% of the tests were positive. According to the same source, 17 additional deaths have also been recorded, bringing the death toll to 155 coronavirus deaths compared to 138 the previous day. In addition, 170 patients with COVID-19 are currently hospitalized, of which 55 are admitted to intensive care and 18 placed on artificial respirators. In total, there are 7195 active carriers and 916 symptomatic patients. Out of 9736 confirmed cases, 2386 have recovered, according to the Ministry of Health.

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

September 20, 2020: A second possible containment in Tunisia

In the face of the worrisome spread of the COVID-19 many experts continue to call for a new general containment for the entire country. “We must do what it takes to protect lives,” many doctors insisted. Dr. Samir Abdelmoumen, member of the National Committee for the fight against coronavirus has even published a statute, this Sunday, September 20, 2020, in which he considered that it is necessary to seriously consider a general containment, taking into account the current epidemic situation. He wrote in this context: “We must think seriously about providing a general containment of 2 to 3 weeks to break this curve”. But it seems that some decision-makers in the country do not agree. The evidence following the controversy caused by his appeal, and probably following some pressure Dr. Samir Abdelmoumen preferred to withdraw his publication. He justified his decision as follows: “I preferred to remove my last post, it is only personal sensations of a field experience and I cannot work under media pressure”.

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

September 19; 2020: All red areas: Should we resign ourselves to live with Covid-19?

The epidemic, in its third phase, is hitting Tunisia hard, with more than 140 deaths already reported. Hidden at home, the inhabitants are afraid, and no one understands why such a high contamination hit our country so hard after it managed to contain the first phase of the epidemic.
The number of deaths and contaminated Covid-19 in Tunisia continues on an upward curve after recording a daily average of more than 400 cases in various regions of Tunisia. The latest assessment was 8,570 confirmed cases. It should be noted that for the first time, 144 patients with Covid-19 are hospitalized, of which 47 (0.77%) are admitted to intensive care and 13 placed on artificial respirators. And there are already 133 deaths from coronavirus. All governorates have been classified red in terms of coronavirus spread after having recorded an average of more than 10 contaminations per 100 thousand inhabitants, announced the National Observatory of New and Emerging Diseases. And to blacken the picture, nearly five hundred people among doctors and paramedical staff caught the virus at a time when Tunisia is suffering from a shortage of more than three thousand doctors to cope with this health crisis. This prompted the Secretary General of the General Federation of Health under the Tunisian General Union of Labor (Ugtt) to stress the need to reserve spaces to accommodate the caregivers responsible for the care of patients suffering from Covid-19 in order to spare their families from contamination.

Indeed, the federation published a communiqué in which it calls on the carers and health workers to stop taking care of patients with Covid-19 if the Ministry of Health does not guarantee them specific accommodation. And even if the Minister of Health, Mehdi Faouzi, wanting to reassure, said that Tunisia is currently entering the 3rd phase of Covid-19 with a death rate that has not exceeded 1% and that the average age of deceased Covid-19 cases is estimated at 75 years, he called on citizens to accept the idea of living normally with the virus without fear, while respecting the instructions and standards of hygiene. However, the staff of the coronavirus testing laboratories at the Pasteur Institute of Tunis admits to be exposed to a strong pressure due to the increased demand. Indeed, the Director General of the Pasteur Institute of Tunis, Hechmi Louzir Louzir, has recognized the state of exhaustion in which the staff of the laboratories screening for coronavirus at the Pasteur Institute of Tunis, conditions that have prompted them to protest against the high pressure to which they are subjected due to the high number of tests performed for the benefit of public hospitals, the National Observatory of New and Emerging Diseases, as well as individuals who visit the Institute without making an appointment, according to the official. To this end, the Ministry of Health has licensed private laboratories to perform screening using the RT-PCR technique. In a press release, the Ministry of Health indicated that, in accordance with the decision of the Minister in charge of the management of current affairs, dated 28 August 2020, on the approval of the specifications governing the participation of private laboratories in biomedical analyses for coronavirus screening using the RT-PCR technique, the Technical Committee of Medical Biology has authorized certain laboratories to carry out this type of analysis.

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

September 19, 2020: Tunisia: Korean donation of 273 coronavirus testing kits

As part of its support for the Tunisian government’s efforts in its fight against the Coronavirus, the Korean government announced a new medical donation. The Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Tunisia announced that the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs has donated 273 Korean screening kits of the Seegene brand, which will enable 27,300 RT-PCR tests to be carried out. In addition, this batch will be received on the morning of Monday, September 21, 2020 at Tunis-Carthage Airport in the presence of H.E. CHO Koo Rae, Korean Ambassador to Tunisia, as well as several Tunisian officials representing the various ministries concerned. Recall that following the example of several foreign diplomatic representations, the Korean Embassy has contributed to the management of the crisis by the Tunisian health authorities by sharing Korean experiences in the field of pandemic control. This contribution took the form, on April 7, of a video-conference between members of the Tunisian committee of experts under the Ministry of Health and the medical team of the Bundang Hospital of Seoul National University.

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

September 18, 2020: The death toll is rising

Tunisia recorded another death due to coronavirus with a rather heavy toll since yesterday. An eighth death was recorded, this Friday, September 18, 2020, in Sousse. It is a septuagenarian from Kalaa Soghra who died in the Covid-19 service of the Sahloul hospital. This death adds to the death toll since yesterday and this, in the space of a few hours. A woman from the governorate of La Manouba also died today at the Rabta hospital in Tunis, after the deterioration of her health. Also in La Manouba, an 84-year-old man also died today at his home. A man, aged 80 and a woman, aged 70, also died of coronavirus in the governorate of Beja. One man, aged 63, died in the regional hospital of Kef. A pharmacist suffering from coronavirus died in the evening of Thursday, September 17, 2020 in Sousse and a 74-year-old woman from Ksah Helal also died last night at the university hospital, Fatouma Bourguiba, in Monastir. As of September 15, the Department of Health also reports 133 coronavirus deaths since last March to which must be added the deaths not yet counted in the Ministry’s balance sheet.

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

September 17, 2020: Tunisia moves to stage 3 of the epidemic: Cohabitation becomes inevitable

Tunisia has passed to stage 3 of the epidemic, which means that the virus is actively circulating on Tunisian soil, knowing that the last report shows 7,600 cases of contamination. “The coronavirus is accelerating. Our plan to fight the epidemic, remember, is a plan of cohabitation,” said the Minister of Health, Faouzi Mehdi, at a press conference held yesterday, during which he announced a set of measures to improve the capacity of health facilities and accelerate the pace of screening for the virus. “Three coronavirus testing laboratories have been set up in Kebili (South), Sidi Bouzid (center) and Jendouba (North). They will be well equipped and supplied with reagents,” said the minister. He also announced the activation of the field hospital of El Menzah which has 80 beds equipped with oxygen and 4 beds for intensive care. A measure that will help to relieve congestion in hospitals, he said. Mehdi also indicated that his department is working closely with the Ministry of Communication Technologies to improve the capacity of the Samu and Shoc room and to respond to emergency calls. In addition, he stressed the importance of respecting barrier gestures to fight against the spread of the virus.

For his part, the national coordinator of the program to fight against coronavirus, Nissaf ben Alaya, said that the health sector has recorded 450 cases of contamination among medical and paramedical staff, saying that the investigation operations revealed that in most cases, the virus was contracted outside hospitals. For his part, Dr. Ahlem Gzara, Director of School and University Medicine, recalled that an awareness campaign conducted jointly by the Directorate of School and University Medicine and the Directorate of Environmental Hygiene and Protection of the Environment, was officially launched yesterday. About a hundred teams have been deployed for this two-week campaign, with the aim of carrying out field visits to check whether the conditions of the health protocol are being respected in schools.

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

September 17, 2020: 30 students from Menzel Nour High School positive for coronavirus

It is the hecatomb in Menzel Nour, governorate of Monastir where the epidemic has spread among the inhabitants with 196 confirmed cases of contamination recorded. The mayor of the municipality of Menzel Nour, Sami Haj Amor, said that among these 196 positive cases are many students, about thirty all attending the high school of Menzel Nour as well as four primary school teachers and two administrative staff, for a total of 36 contaminations in schools in a few hours. Menzel Nour has been confronted for days with a strong spread of the coronavirus. The sports star of Menzel Ennour, the city’s soccer team (Ligue 3 Level 1) has been decimated. The whole team has indeed been affected by the coronavirus. The team had registered two positive cases at Covid-19 two weeks ago. The results of the tests carried out on the other players revealed the contamination of 14 other players in the current squad in addition to three managers.

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

September 16, 2020: 3 new laboratories in Kébili, Sidi Bouzid and Jendouba

“Three new laboratories have been created in Kébili (south), Sidi Bouzid (center) and Jendouba (north) to strengthen the screening of COVID-19 and support the efforts of the 16 other laboratories throughout the country,” Health Minister Faouzi Mehdi announced on Wednesday. At a press conference held at the department’s headquarters in Tunis, the minister said that these laboratories will have the necessary equipment and human resources and will alleviate the pressure on other laboratories while increasing the number of screening tests. In addition, Faouzi Mehdi reported that the ministry is currently working in coordination with the Ministry of Communication Technology to strengthen the performance of the Shoc room (Strategic Center for Health Operations) to improve monitoring of the spread of coronavirus. He also announced the start of activities of the field hospital at the sports city of El Menzah, which has a capacity of 80 beds equipped with artificial respirators and 4 resuscitation beds. Faouzi Mehdi stressed, on this occasion, the need to comply with preventive measures to fight against the spread of coronavirus.

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

September 15, 2020: The start of the school year in Tunisia in the Covid-19 era

More than three months after the deconfinement and while the numbers of contaminations are on the rise again, Tunisian students are getting ready to go back to school. What can they expect at the beginning of the school year? What will be the health conditions for students, teachers and staff? How can we ensure that the pandemic does not worsen the situation of an education system already in crisis? And how can we turn this unprecedented situation into an opportunity for change? I have noticed that the last few weeks have been the scene of intense debates and bitter negotiations on the opportunity and conditions of this “out of the ordinary” back-to-school season. Finally, young Tunisians will gradually return to school between September 15 and 19. But more importantly, students will go to school only every other day, so as not to exceed the threshold of 18 students per class. The programs will be lighter, while keeping the basic knowledge. Vacations will be shortened. Finally, the first weeks of classes will be devoted to an academic upgrading program. However, one must ask whether these solutions meet the expectations of the students and their parents. According to a survey [1] conducted in August, 79% of parents were dissatisfied with the past school year; 41% of parents considered it incomplete; 30% considered it a lost year and 28% considered it a catastrophic year.

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

September 14, 2020: Nissaf Ben Alya: Tunisia records daily 300 to 400 new cases

Nissaf Ben Alya was speaking on the radio show Expresso on Express FM. She said that Tunisia records on average and daily 300 to 400 cases of coronavirus. As well as between three and four deaths per day. In addition, Nissaf ben Alaya added “that a daily meeting is scheduled with the various stakeholders at the Ministry of Health. To study the application of health measures and to strengthen health awareness”. In addition, Nissaf Ben Alya warns about the spread of coronavirus in the country. Indeed, according to her, today cases of horizontal spread of the virus have been discovered. Thus, she specifies that “the virus is now present in various workplaces and health organizations, such as hospitals. The Ministry of Health is redoubling its vigilance to strengthen health measures within its institutions”. In addition, regarding the number of cases, “the number of patients in Tunisia has reached 100 cases. Including nine cases in the resuscitation section to benefit from intubation”. Consequently, she insists that “every Tunisian must follow health measures to the letter to protect himself and his family. It is a necessity to be able to continue to live normally, without counting several deaths. For the virus must not reach the population at risk in Tunisia. Finally, she describes the current situation as “critical especially since the start of school and university will take place soon. The success of this school and university year depends on the application of health measures. With mainly: social distancing; the mandatory wearing of bibs in public places; and hand washing several times a day.

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

September 14, 2020: Doctors call for total containment to be applied again

Faced with the multiplication of new cases of coronavirus and the worrying progression of the epidemic in Tunisia, some doctors have called for a total reconfinement of the country in order to control the spread of the infection. These doctors wish to apply, once again, the total containment to limit the damage of the spread of coronavirus and to enable hospitals to treat cases of contamination with more efficiency, estimated on Monday, September 14, 2020, Dr. Ghazi Dali, on the waves of Mosaique FM. According to him, it is necessary to suspend non-essential economic and social activities as well as courses for three weeks, to allow, as he said, hospitals to better manage the situation with logistical means that remain limited. It should be noted, however, that despite the increase in the number of coronavirus cases, the measures adopted last March to limit the spread of the pandemic, such as general containment, will be difficult to apply again. Taher Gargah, a member of the Scientific Committee for the fight against coronavirus, had warned last month against the alarming increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in Tunisia, denouncing the laxity and indifference to this situation, but he nevertheless indicated that it was out of the question to adopt drastic measures. “There is no question of closing the borders or re-establishing general containment. This issue is not being discussed,” he had said.

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