08 – 14 December, 2020 | Press Review Tunisia

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Photo: John S. on Flickr

December 14, 2020

Sauve.tn, a new digital platform for communication with Tunisian health professionals

The BEDER Association for Citizenship and Equitable Development, announced on Monday the launch of the platform SAUVE.tn, in collaboration with academic partners and representative bodies of health professionals.

In a press release published on Monday 14 December, the association explains that sauve.tn is a digital platform that aims to improve crisis communication for medical and paramedical professionals.

“This interactive website, accompanied by the Sauve.tn Facebook page, will be specifically aimed at Tunisian health professionals, of all categories, in order to strengthen their resilience in the face of the COVID-19 crisis, and thus contribute to the national effort to fight the pandemic”, the same source reads.

The platform aims to centralise, simplify and disseminate all information related to COVID-19 that is useful for health professionals: updated official information, validated scientific recommendations, training materials, useful contacts, etc…

It also aims to promote and pay tribute to health professionals, through reports with the teams fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in the field. It also aims to obtain a representative voice of health professionals, by listening to their criticisms and proposals, and to develop recommendations to improve the governance of the management of the COVID-19 crisis, and of the health system in general.

“Our ultimate goal is to make health professionals well-informed, motivated and confident in the exercise of their mission, in order to have a positive influence on the community and guarantee quality care for the Tunisian citizen,” according to the same source.

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

Tunisia: Proctors boycott exams

The general federation of supervisors and general proctors announced that it has decided to boycott the exams during the blocked week that kicked off on Monday 14 December 2020 in all primary, middle and high schools in the country.

The same federation has called on all its members to boycott any supervision of students in case of non-compliance with the health protocol put in place to fight against the spread of the new coronavirus COVID-19. It considered that the Ministry of Education was responsible for the violation of the health protocol, accusing it of endangering the health of pupils and educational staff.

The trade union structure also accused the Ministry of Education of neglecting to apply the health protocol in the dormitories and canteens, calling, in this regard, on all supervisors and general supervisors to continue to boycott administrative and educational activities and to observe daily protest movements from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

It should be remembered that the written and summary examinations for the first term began this Monday and should be completed in 10 days at the latest, given the application of the group system set up by the Ministry of Education to prevent the spread of the pandemic.

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

December 13, 2020

Tunisia asks France to understand and support it: Mechichi’s mission in Paris

It is not easy to attract France’s attention at the end of this year, in this full COVID-19 epidemic and in this economic recession, within a Europe confronted with Brexit. Hichem Mechichi, on an official visit to Paris on Monday 14 December, is tackling it with conviction. He needs a credible and convincing story to be told in front of his interlocutors, the Prime Minister, Jean Castex, the President of the Senate, Géraérd Larcher, of the Assembly, Richard Ferrand, and of the Medef, Geoffroy Roux Bezieux, sufficiently established arguments and firm commitments.

If nothing has filtered from the message that the head of government will carry, his close relations have made it clear: What Tunisia expects most from France, and therefore from Europe, is that it be understood and supported.

Understanding Tunisia means not forgetting that only ten years ago, the country was suffocated under the yoke of an oppressive dictatorship with its cohort of misappropriations and abuses of rights,” explains a regular visitor to the seraglio. Since then, a young democratic experiment, fragile, vulnerable, contested by some, controversial by others, has withstood so many risks and threats. Multiple and high, the perils, of various internal and external, but also geopolitical, origins, are putting Tunisia’s security under a persistent terrorist threat, its economy doubly affected by a breathless economic model and a health pandemic with aggravating economic and financial consequences, and its model of society to the test. The resurgence in recent days of the Salafist discourse under the dome of the Bardo, calling for verdicts of capital punishment and the execution of those condemned to death, and denouncing single mothers and homosexuality retrogresses Tunisia to centuries of light. »

Added to this is a formidable geostrategic context. Barely unspoken hegemonic temptations are blowing over countries in the region, as can be seen from the military and economic footprints in Libya, in addition to the intensification of the Asian commercial and economic presence. Turkey, like China, but also other countries intend to gain a firm foothold in various sectors.

Economic crisis, unemployment, the rise of clandestine migration as the only hope for tens of thousands of young Tunisians, religious extremism and terrorism: the risk is great. A risk not only for Tunisia, but also and even more so for the whole of Europe, which is so close by.

Without giving up, Tunisia must undoubtedly reconfigure its relationship with Europe. A new vision, an innovative concept revisiting the old obsolete models, and daring and striking programmes are urgently needed. In this new beginning to be initiated together on both shores of the Mediterranean, the role of France and Italy, the two closest neighbours, but also of Germany and other European countries, is essential.

Without a massive, rapid and appropriate European investment in support of Tunisia, developing project implementation capacities and guaranteeing concrete results, Tunisia risks having to endure serious difficulties. To its credit, a finance law has been adopted, not without difficulties, a government that is struggling to stabilise the country and a democracy that must be irreversible.

The whole mission of Hichem Mechichi in Paris is to convince his interlocutors in the palaces of the Republic, Matignon, Luxembourg (Senate) and Bourbon (Assembly), and at the headquarters of the MEDEF. It is also up to his partners to grasp its importance.

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

Nsiri: Tunisia has recorded relative success in the fight against COVID-19 in schools

Tunisia has had relative success in containing Covid-19 contaminations in schools. This is what the Director of Planning and Studies at the Ministry of Education, Bouzid Nsiri, said on Saturday 12 December 2020.
In a statement granted to Mosaïque FM, Nsiri said that the rate of infection by the virus in schools is estimated at 0.16% compared to that in the community.
He also pointed out that since 15 September 2020 (the start of the school year) and until 9 December this year, 3,941 people in schools have contracted the virus, which has claimed the lives of 28 others, according to official updated figures.
The number of recoveries has, for its part, reached 2764, a rate of 70.1%, says the department.
A latest official assessment shows that there are 110393 COVID+ cases spread over the 24 governorates. 3836 deaths but also 84218 recoveries have been recorded nationally.

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

December 11, 2020

5 million Turkish aid to Tunisia in its fight against COVID-19

Turkey has decided to grant Tunisia a financial assistance of 5 million dollars to help it fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the Official Journal reported on December 10.

While this financial assistance will be paid in full in a single instalment, Ankara has also agreed to other similar assistance to the Turkish part of Cyprus, Nigeria, Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry also granted a $75 million grant to Afghanistan in November, despite the dramatic financial slowdown that Turkey has experienced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Turkish newspaper Duvar noted, pointing out that the Turkish lira fell to record levels against foreign currencies throughout 2020, which prompted Moody’s agency to downgrade Turkey’s credit rating in September.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s foreign trade deficit has been on a steady trend over the past year as imports have increased to include basic consumer goods such as crops and cereals, and exports have declined due to the pandemic that has depressed world markets.

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

December 10, 2020

In tribute to the doctors who were victims of COVID-19: Should there be a national day of mourning?

Since the beginning of this second wave, no less than 50 doctors and 300 paramedical staff have died of the coronavirus. The Tunisian Organisation of Young Doctors (Otjm) is looking into the possibility of officially establishing a national day of mourning in honour of the doctors and caregivers who were victims of COVID-19.

In a context where the Ministry of Health and the authorities concerned have not responded to the cries of alarm from the profession, which is calling for means of protection to protect the medical and paramedical profession, which has found itself disarmed in the face of an epidemic that has been violent, the Tunisian Organisation of Young Doctors (Otjm) has once again raised its voice to denounce the bad practices that persist and which are plaguing the health sector in Tunisia.

In addition to yesterday’s angry doctors’ day to denounce the deterioration of the health sector, the Otjm is calling for other urgent measures to benefit the sector to protect doctors and paramedical staff who were on the front line of this epidemic and who are sparing no effort to help COVID-19 patients recover, despite difficult working conditions such as exposure to violence, in addition to the lack of equipment and staff.

Providing care for doctors with COVID-19

The president of the Otjm, Jed Henchiri, says that with the changing epidemiological situation, which differs from region to region, and the increase in the number of doctors suffering from coronavirus, it is essential to strengthen front-line interventions to be able to provide care at home and avoid complications and transfers to hospitals.

“No official count has been made of all the medical and paramedical staff affected by COVID-19. But whatever figures are announced, they remain approximate, because there is always a delay in receiving the accounts, and therefore the figures are always underestimated.

But everyone has realised, today, that health professionals are on the front line before and after the hospital against this epidemic, to ensure the safety of Tunisians.

This reveals both their commitment to the population but also the risks they incur with the few means at their disposal… Thus, each contaminated doctor or carer is one less resource to take care of the population. And with hospitals that do not have sufficient means to deal with it, priority should be given to the rapid care of health professionals affected by this epidemic, who need rapid intervention to return to their posts in this fight and properly carry out their mission… especially given the flagrant lack of human and material resources in our hospitals,” explains Jed Henchiri, in a statement to La Presse.

A day of national mourning?

Today, according to the latest figures announced, there were at least 350 deaths in Tunisia of medical and paramedical staff directly linked to COVID-19. But this figure is likely to increase considerably, in view of the speed of propagation of the pandemic.

Thus, in order to honour those who devoted their lives fighting the epidemic and who were unknown to the general public, the Tunisian Organisation of Young Doctors wishes to establish a national day of mourning in honour of the doctors who were victims of COVID-19 in the exercise of their profession.

“With the lack of protective equipment, the deteriorating state of our hospitals, hundreds of COVID-19 contaminations every day, everyone will collectively remember the traumas experienced during the 2020 pandemic, in a context as heartbreaking as it was unusual… Some paid a high price, as they gave their lives, the majority after having been in contact with infected patients. But as in every country in the world, we know for a fact that doctors, nurses and health workers were among the first to get sick and die (many had to work unprotected, in intensive care).

We also know that the pandemic is far from over and that it continues to wreak havoc around the world. To this end, the Otjm has proposed to pay tribute to the medical and paramedical corps carried away by the Covid-19 and proposes to establish a national day of mourning to honour those who are always forgotten, the doctors and caretakers,” says Henchiri.

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

COVID-19: Exception for travel between regions

Organised excursions by travel agencies in the regions are now permitted. The announcement was made on Thursday, December 10, 2020, by Mohamed Rabhi, member of the Scientific Commission for the fight against Covid-19.
Rabhi has, however, specified that these trips must be supervised and that the itineraries as well as the programmes of the excursions must be approved by the Tunisian National Tourist Office (ONTT).
Congresses, symposia and conferences are, moreover, allowed to establishments offering accommodation services with a capacity of thirty persons while respecting the sanitary protocol.
A latest official report shows 107814 confirmed COVID-19 cases spread over the 24 governorates. 3758 deaths but also 82193 recoveries have been recorded nationwide.

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

December 09, 2020

COVID-19: Evolution of the 76% cure rate in Tunisia

With 2284 new recoveries recorded on 7 December in progress, the number of people recovered from COVID_19 rose to 80082 out of a total of 105445 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection after recording 1116 new contaminations on the same date.

This is what the Ministry of Health said in its latest assessment published Tuesday evening.

Thus the cure rate has evolved to 75.94% against a mortality rate of 3.47%.

On the other hand, the bulletin recorded 72 additional deaths, bringing the total death toll to 3,668.

At the same date, 1385 patients with COVID-19 were hospitalized, including 277 in intensive care and 102 placed on artificial respirators, in both the public and private sectors.

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

December 08, 2020

Tunisian tourism: a disaster-stricken sector but hope persists

The tourism sector in Tunisia and throughout the world has been the most affected, if not the most bruised by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, in Tunisia it has dragged and is still dragging the after-effects of many other endogenous and exogenous crises:

The explosions in three hotels in Sousse and Monastir almost wiped out the British market. The first and second Gulf War and the invasion of Kuwait by Iraqi troops in 1991 and the 2001 attacks on the two towers of the World Trade Center in the United States caused a 24% drop in all European markets. The attack in 2002 against the synagogue in Djerba caused the German market to fall by 50%.

However, the emergence of Terrorism in Tunisia after January 2011 has upset any logic of growth in the Tourism sector. Following certain terrorist acts, entries fell by 30.7% and overnight stays by 40.30%.

The attack on the Bardo Museum on 14th March 2015, the attack in Sousse perpetrated against a hotel at the port of Kantaoui and its clients on 26th June 2015, as well as the terrorist attack in Tunis on 24th November targeting a bus of the Presidential Guard have dealt a very hard blow to the tourism sector in Tunisia. This, of course, in addition to everything that was happening in the heights of the country either at Chaambi or Mighila and elsewhere. Tourism statistics were going down more and more into hell to reach a low point with only 5,300,000 entries compared to 7 million in 2007, without taking into consideration the 4% growth rate set by the World Tourism Organisation.

And to complete the circle, the COVID-19 pandemic has terrorised, in its own way, the whole world, and has particularly devastated the Tourism sector and all its components: hotels, travel agencies, air transport, car rentals, crafts, air transport, restaurants, marinas. The damage did not stop there, to encompass farmers, fishermen, taxists, doctors, clinics, pharmacists, and to sum up all the cogs of the national economy.

In Tunisia, the state took a long time to react without trying to find out whether the measures it itself decided on were correctly and quickly implemented. Moreover, the conditions laid down for eligibility for these measures often constitute a brake on the slowing down or even non-execution of these measures.

A question arises: is the state aware of a possible collapse of the tourism sector? What would it do for the 400,000 families that depend on Tourism? What would it do to cover, however little, the deficit of our balance of trade? Where and how would it replace the 14% share of tourism in our gross domestic product? With what currencies would it pay off our suffocating debts to the international money market? What would it do with a hotel park, once the jewel of Mediterranean tourism, which would be deteriorated and perhaps unusable due to lack of life and maintenance?

Having said this, it is essential that the State should promote, before any other conditions, the health of Tunisians and their right to have a health system and infrastructure that responds to all individual or collective eventualities. This is why we strongly and convincingly support all measures that guarantee our citizens a healthy and safe life.

On another level, and while praising the work of the scientific committee, we should have included in the work of this committee economic luminaries entitled to give their opinion on the measures to be taken and their impact on the economic fabric.

In the case of COVID-19, by decreeing sanitary measures, the State must at the same time ensure that the economic fabric is not deteriorated to such an extent that the Tunisian risks losing his livelihood.
It is simply a matter of ensuring that these measures are carried out by both sides. The future of the companies as well as the daily life of their employees depends on it.

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