March 01 – 17, 2021 | Press Review Tunisia

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Photo: John S. on Flickr

March 17, 2021

Two million dinars of credit for artisans affected by COVID-19

500 artisans have benefited from working capital loans for a total value of 2 million dinars (MDT), out of a total of 2,500 who have applied for it, told the TAP Agency, the CEO of ONAT, Faouzi Ben Halima.

The National Office of the Tunisian handicrafts (ONAT) has begun the granting of working capital loans to the benefit of artisans affected by the pandemic of the coronavirus.

For more information, please consult the following link.

March 16, 2021

Weekly shipments of 70,000 doses of vaccine will arrive from April 2021

The Minister of Health Faouzi Mehdi said that weekly shipments of 70 thousand doses of anti-COVID-19 vaccine will arrive in Tunisia from April 2021, adding that the Ministry of Health plans to vaccinate 50 percent of Tunisians before the end of the year.

The Minister of Health announced during a press briefing today in Tunis that Tunisia will receive tomorrow, Wednesday, a shipment of about 93 thousand 600 doses of Pfizer vaccine, while a batch of 136 thousand doses of Astrazeneca vaccine will arrive in the coming days. Among the batches of vaccine scheduled, Mehdi cited in particular 200 thousand doses of Sinovac vaccine, donated by the Republic of China, and additional doses of Russian Sputnik and British Astrazeneca vaccine.

For more information, please consult the following link.

Launch of the 6th edition of the Summer School on Migration

 Mohamed Trabelsi, the Mayor of Tunis Mrs. Souad Abderrahim, the Ambassador of the European Union Mr. Marcus Cornaro, the Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy in Tunisia Mr. Gregory LoGerfo, and the Director General of INTES Mr. Sami Hanachi.

This 6th edition is placed under the theme “Migration and Employment” and offers participants a space for training and exchange on the relevant issue of the correlation between migration and employment in a difficult international context, marked by the impact of the global health crisis and its impact on the international and national workforce.  The Summer School is a comprehensive 5-day training programme allowing 60 participants, including policy makers, academics, members of civil society and graduate students, from all over the world to deepen their knowledge on a specific migration-related topic.

For more information, please consult the following link.

Suspended in several European countries, 136,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine on the way

While the British vaccine AstraZeneca was suspended in several European countries on Monday 15 March 2021 including France, Germany and Great Britain due to a history of certain side effects that the countries concerned described as dangerous, a batch of the British vaccine AstraZeneca, a set of about 136,000 doses will soon arrive in Tunisia as part of purchases funded by the WHO Covax initiative.

The head of the steering committee of the national anti-COVID-19 vaccination campaign in Tunisia, Hachemi Louzir, said that the ban or suspension of the use of any vaccine is subject to the recommendations of the World Health Organisation and to the results of studies currently being conducted by the European Medicines Agency.

For more information, please consult the following link.

Tunisia officially has 30 cases of the British variant

The Minister of Health, Faouzi Mehdi, revealed during a press conference held on Tuesday, March 16, 2021, that Tunisia officially has 30 cases of the British variant of the coronavirus. At present, all these cases of the British variant are concentrated in Tunis, Kasserine, Siliana and Beja, he added, stressing that “all necessary measures have been taken to prevent the spread of the epidemic.

For more information, please consult the following link.

March 15, 2021

The number of arrivals on the Italian coast has increased by more than 23 times compared to 2020

The number of arrivals on the Italian coast increased during the month of February 2021 to 638 migrants, compared to only 26 migrants during the same period in 2020, an increase of more than 23 times.

During an online conference dedicated to the presentation of the February 2021 report, FTDES information officer Romdhane Ben Amor indicated that this increase is due to the frustration among the groups participating in non-regulatory migration, especially after the increase in social demonstrations during January 2021 which the government faced with a strong police repression and hundreds of arrests. He pointed out that the month of February was distinguished by the return of family migration after its absence during the month of January, as about 15 families arrived, according to preliminary estimates and testimonies from local organisations on Lampedusa Island, without taking into consideration the number of families that were intercepted due to the lack of detailed data on interceptions carried out by the Tunisian authorities.

“The increase in many economic, social, family and personal factors that contribute to the migration project among many groups of Tunisian families, especially young families (families with minor children), may presage an upward trend in non-statutory migration operations in the coming period,” he said.

He said that the governorate of Mahdia has seen an increase in the number of intercepted crossing operations with 25% as it is a privileged point of departure for people of Tunisian nationality and for self-organised departure operations, adding that the governorates of Sfax and Mahdia have accounted for more than half of the intercepted crossing operations

For more information, please consult the following link.

March 13, 2021

Tarek Bennaceur: Almost 60% of the population will be vaccinated by July

Speaking today at the official start of the national vaccination campaign, the Regional Director of Health in Tunis, Tarek Bennaceur announced that nearly 60% of the population will be vaccinated by July. Bennaceur also specified that the health professionals in charge of ensuring the national campaign, the personnel in charge of carrying out the RT-PCR tests as well as the professionals operating in the emergency services, resuscitation, pneumology, general internal medicine where the risk of contamination by the Coronavirus is high, will be given priority.

He added, in the same context, that after the receipt of batches of COVID-19 vaccine, people over 70 years of age, in particular those affected by chronic diseases, will also be on the priority list.

For more information, please consult the following link.

No objection in Tunisia to AstraZeneca vaccine

No objection has been raised against the acquisition of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, says Health Minister Faouzi Mahdi, saying that the decision of some countries to suspend the use of this vaccine is preventive and not a ban. On the sidelines of the ceremony to hand over a Canadian donation worth 1 million dinars on Friday, March 12, 2021, Mahdi added that it is expected that the shipment of 93,600 doses of Pfizer vaccine will be received during the next week as part of the Covax initiative, followed by the shipment of 138 thousand doses of AstraZeneca vaccines

For more information, please consult the following link.

Launch of the coronavirus vaccination campaign

 Tunisia launched on Saturday, with a delay of one month, its vaccination campaign against the coronavirus starting with health professionals, in the front line in the fight against the pandemic.          

At the El Menzah vaccination centre in Tunis, around 300 nurses, doctors and resuscitators in the capital’s COVID-19 departments were vaccinated on Saturday morning. Tunisia had received 30,000 doses of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V the day before. In a first stage, 15,000 health professionals will be vaccinated, said Abdelmoumen Samir. From next week, “the pace of vaccination will accelerate with the expected receipt of 94,000 doses of the German-American vaccine Pfizer/BioNTech, as well as AstraZeneca vaccines,” he added.

For more information, please consult the following link.

COVID-19 vaccine: A general feeling of scepticism!

In order to measure the impact on Tunisian public opinion and the degree of impact on citizens of the management of the fight against the spread of COVID-19, an opinion poll became necessary. It was conducted in some neighborhoods of Ariana, El Menzah V and VI and Ennasr in particular, knowing that an inspection visit by Mr. Mechichi occurred in a youth center of the said governorate which gauges the degree of preparation of the vaccination campaign which starts this Saturday.

The main question is: “Are you registered on the E-vax platform or do you plan to do so soon?” The least we can say is that in the street only one person out of two on average wears the surgical mask, to believe that this is a subject that splits, again, the Tunisian public opinion in two, in the manner of the current political divisions that seem to lead the country towards two extremely opposed camps. So we would never agree?

What vaccine?

The 20-30 year olds we meet at the corner shop, at the café, at the bakery, are not registered on the electronic platform “Evax” by their own admission. Some are even unaware of its existence. Moreover, they have no intention of doing so, because they believe, wrongly no doubt, that they are immune to the Sars-Cov-2 virus.

An elderly woman wearing a bib, her arms full of bags of bread as she leaves a bakery, says she is registered but has no intention of being vaccinated. She tells of her bitterness and discouragement: “I have many chronic illnesses. I have a heart condition and high cholesterol. I’m more likely not to get vaccinated for fear of the side effects. However, the health authorities assure us that the side effects are generally known and taken into account when vaccinating patients suffering from a pathology.

A citizen in his fifties looks grey and says he does not want to hear about the vaccine! Only one person out of two wears the bib, which alone shows the lack of interest of a fringe of the population in the fight against COVID-19. Another citizen named Jalel, leaning against the door of his car, displays a doubtful pout. He gives his opinion: “Even if I wear the bib to respect the sanitary protocol and protect myself from the risk of contamination, the idea of getting vaccinated does not occur to me. For the simple reason that I have not experienced any of the symptoms described over the past year. I prefer to wait and see how things develop before getting vaccinated.

At the bottom of a commercial street in El Menzah V, a man without a surgical mask is totally sceptical about the anti-COVID-19 vaccine because of too much information circulating about it, but also because of the vagueness about what generally enters Tunisia as foreign products. A lack of confidence in the nature or degree of reliability of the vaccine that can be administered to them speaks volumes… Many of them do not want to take the risk of being vaccinated, preferring instead to take a step back from the campaign in order to ensure that the anti-COVID-19 vaccine is harmless.

Schematically, it can be estimated that not all people who do not wear the bib intend to be vaccinated. At the new Ariana, Seifeddine, a young man of twenty-seven, with his bib pulled down over his chin, is surprising in his reasoning: “No, I don’t want to be vaccinated because I’m young and I think that my body can defend itself naturally in case of contamination by the coronavirus. Other categories have priority. It is precisely these priority groups that will be vaccinated during the first all-out vaccination campaign that will start today, Saturday 13 March, in various governorates. In the meantime, the scepticism of a majority of the population, who refuse to admit the effectiveness of the anti-COVID-19 vaccine, especially since it is no longer time for reflection, is surprising.

On the homepage of the portal, we learn that this platform is the result of the work and joint patriotic commitment of the CNI, Isie, Cims, Ansi, telecommunications operators, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Communication Technologies. For those who don’t know yet, all you have to do is dial *2021# on your mobile phone and follow the step-by-step instructions before receiving a registration number within minutes. However, when following the instructions, many users have complained of errors…Hence the preferable use of the electronic portal “”.

For more information, please consult the following link.

March 12, 2021

Tunisia’s revolution failed to deliver on economic promise, Gallup poll finds

The “Jasmine Revolution” in Tunisia ten years ago was one of the quickest and relatively most peaceful revolutions that shook the Arab world at the time. Former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, resigned about a month after the protests began.

In 2020, eight out of ten Tunisians said it was difficult to find a job in the city or region where they live, up from 53% in 2010, before the start of the revolution, according to the results of a poll conducted by Gallup International. While some of the recent pessimism about the job market is likely related to the government’s containment measures due to COVID-19, the percentage of Tunisians saying it was a bad time to find a job had already risen to 76% in 2019. In fact, about seven in 10 Tunisians have said this since 2015, suggesting that much of the current economic woes predate the pandemic.

On the broader question of the trajectory of their local economy, Tunisians in 2020 were nine times more likely than in 2010 to say that economic conditions were getting worse (72% versus 8%, respectively). As with local labour market assessments, it is likely that developments related to COVID-19 have played a role in this pessimism. However, in 2019, 62% of Tunisians said that their local economy was deteriorating, which was a new record high.

Forty per cent of Tunisians said in 2020 that their standard of living was deteriorating, compared to 7% who said the same in 2010, before the revolution. The percentage of Tunisians saying their standard of living is deteriorating has generally trended upwards since 2010, reaching a peak of 42% in 2019, before the pandemic. At the same time, the percentage of those who say their standard of living is improving has fallen by 20 percentage points compared to 2010. The 61% who said so a decade ago was the high point of Gallup’s trend, although the 41% who said so in 2020 was a far cry from the low of 23% in 2017. This low came after the approval of major austerity measures in the Tunisian government’s budget.

For more information, please consult the following link.

Survey on Tunisians and the COVID-19 vaccine: 39% of Tunisians say they want to be vaccinated

Tunisia Survey, a specialist in online surveys and digital studies, has just unveiled the results of its survey: The Tunisian and the COVID-19 vaccine. This survey is based on a self-administered online questionnaire which took place from 25 February 2021 to 09 March. The objective of the study is to understand the attitude of Tunisians towards the COVID-19 vaccine. The sample size after purification was 1826 respondents.

Tunisians not so well informed!

To the question “Do you feel well informed about COVID-19 vaccines?”, only 46% of respondents feel well informed. More than half of the respondents, 54%, say they are not well informed. There is no significant difference between men and women or between age groups.

39% of respondents say they will be vaccinated against COVID-19. 36% of respondents will not be vaccinated and 25% do not yet know if they will be vaccinated.

  • 46% of men say they want to be vaccinated, compared to 26% of women;
  • 45% of women say they will not be vaccinated compared to 31% of men.
  • The “Under 49s” are against vaccination, with 39.45% saying they do not want to be vaccinated and 26.53% still not knowing what to do.
  • The “50 and over” age group is the one that says it wants to be vaccinated at 49.94% and 23.43% do not yet know if they will do so.

Answering the question “If you were going to be vaccinated and had a choice, which of the vaccines against COVID would you choose?” respondents chose :

  • Pfizer-BioNTech for 54%;
  • Sputnik V for 24%;
  • AstraZeneca/Oxford for 10%;
  • Moderna for 9%;
  • Sinopharm for 3%.

Only 41% of respondents report having registered for the EVAX vaccination platform.
The highest number of registrations is among those aged 60 and over, with 60.4% declaring that they have registered for EVAX.

For more information, please consult the following link.

March 12, 2021

Political crisis, COVID, low smuggler’s rates… departures from Tunisia continue to attract new clients

Thirty-nine migrants, including four children, died on Tuesday 9 March when their boats sank off the coast of Sfax, in eastern Tunisia. While Tunisia has been a preferred point of departure for would-be exiles to Europe for several years, this latest tragedy is a reminder that migrant crossings in makeshift boats from this country continue to increase. Since the beginning of the year 2021, nearly 95 interceptions have taken place at sea, compared to about fifty last year over the same period.

Romdhane Ben Amor, spokesperson for the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights, an association that helps, among others, migrants, explains.

InfoMigrants : Are you seeing an increase in departures from Tunisia?

Romdhane Ben Amor: During the months of January/February 2021, attempted crossings increased. Tunisian authorities made 94 interceptions, involving a total of 1,736 migrants.  In comparison, during the same period last year, there were 47 interceptions, with 887 migrants arrested. So we have double the number of attempted crossings this year.

These interceptions take place either at sea or on land, prior to departures, in houses where migrants are located. In February 2021, 30% of these interceptions took place before departure at sea, and 70% took place at sea. This figure is also increasing: in December 2020, only about 48% of interceptions took place at sea.

IM: What is the proportion of foreign migrants and Tunisians in these departures?

RBA: Currently, 55% of these attempted crossings are sub-Saharan. In the year 2020, the proportion of sub-Saharans was only 31% on average [Tunisians were the first nationality to arrive illegally in Italy, editor’s note].

It’s a classic observation: in January/February, in winter, there are always more sub-Saharans [who try to cross the Mediterranean]. It’s a good time because the crossings are less expensive given the increased risks (low temperatures, rough seas, etc.). Tunisians, on the other hand, generally avoid this period because the weather conditions are not good.

IM: Where do these migrants come from?

RBA: In 2020, 27% of departures were from the vicinity of the city of Sfax, and 25% from Mahdia [both located on the east coast of the country]. These two regions therefore account for half of the attempted departures.

In Sfax, there is a large community of sub-Saharan migrants and many very active smuggling networks. In Mahdia, there are more Tunisians who want to leave.

IM: How do you explain this increase in departures and attempted departures?

RBA: In Tunisia, January and February 2021 were very turbulent politically and socially. The country was agitated by a political crisis and a social protest movement against a backdrop of economic stagnation. There have been many demonstrations, especially against police violence.] There was a wave of protests everywhere. In response, the state concentrated its forces to try to keep calm, especially in working-class neighbourhoods. The fight against the smuggling networks was therefore neglected. They took advantage of this.

The other reason is the impact of COVID, especially on the sub-Saharan communities in Tunisia. These migrants work a lot in the informal sector, on building sites, in cafés, restaurants… With the pandemic, they have lost their jobs. With the pandemic, they have lost their jobs. [There is a curfew in place in the country, and bars and restaurants are only allowed to accommodate 30% of their maximum capacity in closed spaces, editor’s note].
Many of these sub-Saharan migrants were in a fairly stable situation until then. Their migration project existed but it was not a priority.

The Tunisians who found themselves unemployed were able to receive financial aid from the state, but the Sub-Saharans had no contract, they were illegal, and were therefore deprived of this financial aid. They had no other solution than to leave, especially as we don’t know when this crisis will end. All this leads to tragedies like the one we saw on Tuesday, and we can unfortunately expect more of the same in the coming days.

For more information, please consult the following link.

Gender-based violence: $2 million from Canada

UN Women and UNDP launched the post-COVID-19 gender-based violence (GBV) programme in Tunisia on 8 March 2021, funded by the Government of Canada. This two-year programme was instituted with the aim of ending gender-based violence, in particular the socio-economic marginalization exacerbated by the socio-economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and the containment measures associated with it.

Aiming to directly benefit 2,800 Tunisians, through which 51,000 are indirectly reached, including vulnerable and marginalised women, this programme aims to give women and girls access to better services in addition to the ability to economically support themselves while improving their self-confidence and business skills, and increasing the financial support available to them.

“Unfortunately, in the wake of the pandemic, a disproportionately larger number of women and girls still face violence, discrimination and socio-economic marginalisation. By supporting this initiative, Canada is supporting the development of policies and the implementation of programmes aimed at gender equality and the elimination of all forms of gender-based violence,” said Patrice Cousineau, Canada’s Ambassador to Tunisia.

For more information, please consult the following link.

Courts return to normal on 1 April

Activity will resume normally in the courts, all jurisdictions combined, from 1ᵉʳ April 2021, the Superior Council of the Judiciary (CSM) announced on Thursday.

The Superior Council of the Judiciary indicates that the preventive measures against the coronavirus will still be in force, in particular the single entrance reserved for litigants with temperature measurement and hydroalcoholic gel, the compulsory wearing of masks and physical distancing, in all areas of the courts, in particular the courtrooms.

For more information, please consult the following link.

Imposition of a general health lockdown in this region for ten days

After having counted today, March 11, 2021, the contamination of 24 individuals by the new variant of the Coronavirus in the delegations of Nefza and Teboursouk, the regional committee of fight against the epidemic in Beja decided the imposition of a general sanitary confinement during ten days, from March 10 until March 20, 2021 in the following sectors

  • Cité El Wouroud, in the delegation of Nefza;
  • Teboursouk Médina, El Menchia and Ain Jammela in the delegation of Teboursouk.

For more information, please consult the following link.

Mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis: a complaint against the authorities

A group of citizens has filed a complaint for mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis against the public authorities, including those responsible for the deaths of thousands of Tunisians.

The complainants question the chaotic management of the epidemic, citing several blunders and a limited strategy without any vision. For example, the text of the complaint refers to the reopening of the borders in June 2020 without this decision being accompanied by strict protection and control measures. A situation that has led to hundreds of deaths, not only due to COVID-19, because of the saturation of hospital capacities. They also point to the confusion surrounding the arrival of the vaccine in Tunisia and the “misleading” and “contradictory” statements by officials as to the precise date of receipt of the remedy. The complainants also denounce an almost non-existent awareness campaign for vaccination.

Taking these facts into account, the citizens’ group states that this is a proven negligence on the part of the authorities in contradiction with Article 38 of the Constitution: “Every human being has the right to health. The State guarantees prevention and health care to every citizen and ensures the necessary means for the safety and quality of health services. The State guarantees free health care for people without support or without sufficient resources”.

The complaint was filed on the basis of Articles 217 and 143 of the Criminal Code. The former provides that: “The perpetrator of involuntary manslaughter, committed or caused by clumsiness, imprudence, negligence, inattention or failure to observe regulations, shall be punished by two years’ imprisonment and a fine of seven hundred and twenty dinars”. The second stipulates that “anyone who refuses or neglects to carry out the work or services or to provide the assistance required in the event of an accident, disturbance, shipwreck, flood, fire or other calamity, as well as in cases of robbery, looting, flagrante delicto, public outcry or judicial execution, shall be liable to one month’s imprisonment and a fine of 48 dinars”.

For more information, please consult the following link.

March 10, 2021

China will continue its aid to Tunisia

The Head of Government Hichem Mechichi met on Wednesday morning at the Kasbah Palace with the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China in Tunisia Zhang Jianguo. The latter expressed the readiness of his country to continue its aid to Tunisia. And this, in order to fight against the pandemic of COVID-19.

For more information, please consult the following link.

It’s the solution to successful immunisation, says Sonia Ben Cheikh

Speaking on Shems FM’s La Matinale on Wednesday, March 10, 2021, the former Minister of Health, Sonia Ben Cheikh and leader of Tahya Tounes, considers that the receipt of 30,000 doses of the Russian vaccine against COVID-10 represents a real hope for Tunisia. What’s more, it will be a life-size test for the health authorities. Going back to the vaccination strategy, Sonia Ben Cheikh deplored the low number of people registered for vaccination via the Evax application. The solution? The former minister considers that communication is lacking in the national vaccination strategy. “The Ministry of Health must, from now on, exploit the media and digital to communicate. We need a committee of communication experts to encourage Tunisians to register and get vaccinated,” she told Hamza Belloumi.

In this same context, the former Minister of Health considers that Tunisia must forge the label of a safe and vaccinated country, which should reassure investors and tourism professionals. “We must be able to sell this label. We must combine all efforts in a commission placed under the supervision of the presidency of the government. It must be able to work with the vaccination commission,” she said. Furthermore, beyond any corporatist considerations, Sonia Ben Cheikh believes that we must start by vaccinating the first line, namely doctors and health workers. Indeed, they are directly confronted with COVID-19 patients and, in this same context, it is necessary to avoid that they become a source of contamination. “There is a crisis of confidence between the people and the leaders. It is hoped that vaccination will help to restore this trust,” said the former Health Minister.

For more information, please consult the following link.

March 09, 2021

COVID-19: the surprising environmental impact in Tunisia

While the economic and social impact of the health crisis linked to COVID-19 is heavy, the situation is changing in many respects on the environmental level, something that Professor Adel Ben Youssef addressed at a press conference held this Tuesday, March 9, 2021 in Tunis, devoted to a study conducted, precisely, on these impacts – developed by the Ministry of Local Affairs and the Environment and GIZ.

“The health crisis has brought an improvement in air quality, both globally and in Tunisia,” he began. The Professor said that greenhouse gas emissions have dropped by 8% in 2020. “This is the first decrease compatible with the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement. Of course, we should not wait for comparable crises to work on the energy issue,” he explained.

In Tunisia, the observation is the same. Quoting the INM (Institut National de Météorologie), Adel Ben Youssef states that air quality has clearly improved, particularly during the period of confinement. In this same context, according to the National Observatory of Energy and Mines, the demand for primary energy has dropped by 7% between 2019 and 2020, from 9.7 to 9.1 million tons of oil.

Similarly, road fuel consumption fell by 5% in 2020 compared to 2019, given that it accounts for 66% of overall petroleum product consumption. During the same period, the aviation sector was the most affected. Indeed, the consumption of paraffin fell by 66%. It should also be noted that energy demand fell by 40% in April 2020. Over the whole of 2020, it is of the order of 7%.

For more information, please consult the following link.

March 08

8 March: International Women’s Rights Day under the sign of the coronavirus

In a statement published today on its official page, the Minster of Women, Family and the Elderly said that this year, the UN has chosen to pay tribute to women, recalling that they were in the front line against the pandemic of COVID-19. The Ministry recalled the achievements of Tunisian women since independence, particularly in terms of legislation, and referred to the principle of gender equality, which is protected by the 2014 Constitution and by various international agreements and conventions ratified by Tunisia. However, the ministry acknowledged that there is still a long way to go, adding that it is currently working on several issues, including the fight against violence against women, the situation of rural women and support for female entrepreneurship.

For more information, please consult the following link.

Tunisia: new entry and residence conditions from 8 March

Tunisia has announced new measures adopted in the framework of the coronavirus epidemic, which concern non-resident arrivals in Tunisia with a reservation in a tourist accommodation. Tunisia is changing its modalities of entry and stay of foreign tourists as from this Monday 8 March, the Tunisian National Tourist Office (ONTT) announced this morning in a press release. These measures concern non-resident arrivals in Tunisia with a reservation in one of the tourist accommodations:

  • Requirement to present a negative RT-PCR test not exceeding 72 hours, in addition to a rapid test in transit areas,
  • Mandatory two-day confinement in the same tourist accommodation,
  • A PCR test is carried out at the traveller’s expense after the 48-hour confinement. The persons concerned should not leave their rooms until the test result is negative,
  • Lifting the ban on travel between regions and replacing it with the closure of regions with increased cases, in consultation with local authorities,
  • Re-adjustment of curfew times to begin at 22:00 and end at 05:00 in the morning,
  • Tourist restaurants now close at 8pm,
  • Tourist accommodation establishments will only be allowed to serve their resident guests after 20:00
  • Return of different types of events, activities and celebrations in tourist establishments, while limiting themselves to a capacity of 50% and respecting the Tunisian Tourism Sanitary Protocol,
  • Application of all the measures listed in the Tunisian Tourism Health Protocol to combat COVID-19 and the need to respect the barrier measures, namely: physical distancing, wearing a mask and washing hands.

These measures are valid until 28 March. “It is understood that these measures will be updated according to the evolution of the health situation,” adds the ONTT.

For more information, please consult the following link.

Tunisia receives first doses of Sputnik vaccine

A first quantity of the anti-COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik, will be received on Tuesday 9 March 2021, the Presidency of the Republic announced in a press release. It will allow the vaccination of 15,000 people. In the coming weeks, a second quantity of 500,000 doses will be acquired for the benefit of 250,000 people, the Presidency of the Republic said in the statement. These doses of vaccine will be distributed according to the priorities determined by the National Committee for the fight against the coronavirus and with the various efforts made by the civilian and military parties concerned.

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

March 05, 2021

The scandal of the unequal distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine

The current uncertainty in Tunisia about the national vaccination strategy against the COVID-19 pandemic is a source of anxiety for all citizens, of all categories, and may provoke social unrest and popular protests, what is more, in a context of general crisis.

“The world is facing a catastrophic moral failure, and the price of that failure will be paid by lives and livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), referring to the scandal of unequal distribution of the COVID vaccine around the world, with the richest countries sharing the bulk of the production of the vaccine, The richest countries share the bulk of the production of the pharmaceutical companies, which in turn are faced with a very high demand that is difficult to meet in a short time. Some believe that everyone has the right to a vaccine, regardless of the wealth of the territory in which they live. Others believe that “accelerating the distribution of vaccines in a region with a high density of inhabitants and businesses, and which is one of the main economic engines of the country” will automatically contribute to the recovery of activities throughout the country.

In Tunisia, where the vaccines are slow to arrive, we are largely lagging behind. And faced with the scarcity of the anti-COVID vaccine on the one hand and the increase in deaths due to this pandemic on the other, the authorities are finding it difficult to put in place a real national vaccination strategy and to plan an orderly resumption of activities, particularly economic ones, which have been badly affected by the health measures implemented to deal with the spread of the nasty virus. The authorities are showing great hesitation and sometimes even remain strangely silent, avoiding making a clear statement on the issue.

However, it is high time to clarify things and give people perspectives, as the current uncertainty and lack of visibility complicate the task of economic operators who need to plan the recovery of their activities. This is especially true for tour operators and hoteliers. Worse still, this uncertainty is a source of anxiety for all citizens, of all categories, and may provoke social unrest and popular protests, especially in a context of general crisis.

For more information, please consult the following link.

Coronavirus: New measures announced

The scientific committee for the fight against the coronavirus decided, following a meeting held on Friday, to reduce the curfew hours. From 08 March the curfew will be imposed from 22:00 in the evening to 05:00 in the morning.

It was also decided to cancel the ban on travel between regions with a closure of infected areas that record a high rate of cases contaminated by the coronavirus. The scientific committee also decided to impose a mandatory self-containment of 48 hours to travellers coming from abroad with the imperative to have a negative analysis (PCR) carried out 72 hours before the date of arrival on the Tunisian territory.

After the completion of the self-containment period, travellers coming from abroad must undergo a second analysis, said the spokeswoman of the Ministry of Health, Nissaf Ben Alaya, during a press conference held at the headquarters of the Presidency of the Government.

For more information, please consult the following link.

Hechmi Louzir: “The vaccination centres against COVID-19 are ready”.

“Vaccination operations will start after 24 hours or 48 hours from the date of receipt of the first batches of vaccine, expected during this month in Tunisia. This is what Hechmi Louzir, chairman of the steering committee of the anti-COVID-19 vaccination campaign, said Friday. Hechmi Louzir said during a press conference held by the scientific committee of the fight against the coronavirus at the headquarters of the presidency of the government, that the vaccination centres are ready for the vaccination campaign. This will start as soon as the first batches are received. He added that mobile teams will ensure the vaccination of people who cannot travel to these centres.

For more information, please consult the following link.

Chinese vaccine Coronavac approved in Tunisia

According to the Ministry of Health, this authorisation granted to the Coronavac vaccine is part of the efforts to obtain supplies of vaccines to fight the coronavirus. Indeed, the approval of this vaccine comes after the evaluation of the file presented by the Chinese laboratory. “This authorisation will speed up the process of supplying the anti-Coronavirus vaccine,” the ministry added.

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March 03, 2021

The two-day strike has turned into an open sit-in: Young doctors engage in an arm wrestle with the government

The protesters began an open sit-in yesterday at the headquarters of the Ministry of Health following the “laxity and inaction of the authorities in the face of the claims of the Tunisian Organization of Young Doctors”.

In a tense social, political, economic and health climate, Tunisia is experiencing a new escalation in the crisis between the government and young doctors, who yesterday called for an open sit-in at the Ministry of Health, in protest against the failure to comply with what was agreed at the meeting of 23 December 2020. In this regard, is the arm wrestling between the striking doctors and the government about to take a new turn?

The government and young doctors are at loggerheads

In a statement given to La Presse, Jed Henchiri, president of the Tunisian Young Doctors’ Organisation (Otjm), says that the government and the Ministry of Health are taking lightly such fundamental issues as the deterioration of the public health sector, which is now proceeding at full speed, the instability of the working conditions of the medical and paramedical staff, and the increasing pressure on the workplace.

“Faced with this ignorance and persecution, whether disguised or not, which doctors of all categories face, the members of the Tunisian Young Doctors Organisation, namely residents and interns and medical students, decided yesterday to raise their voices and use other more effective methods to put pressure on a government that refuses to take their demands seriously,” he said. Henchiri added that following the last strike, which lasted two days, a negotiation session with the government was set for March 2, 2021, which should be devoted more specifically to the examination of the lists of demands proposed by Otjm, following the meeting of December 23, 2020, held under the chairmanship of the Head of Government, Hichem Mechichi.

“We were surprised by the absence of the Minister of Health, who was supposed to chair this session, and by the closure of the file of martyr Badreddine Aloui, who died in the hospital of Jendouba in tragic conditions last December, but it doesn’t work and it is not possible to continue like this… Each time, ignorance and lack of seriousness were the order of the day, at a time when young doctors are on strike three times in a single month for legitimate demands… Do young doctors and their elders have to block roads and burn tyres to get the government to do its job?”The young doctor laments.

Why the sit-in?

Henchiri said that the most important decision agreed at the 23 December meeting was the creation of a High National Commission for the reform of the public health system, which would include all stakeholders, namely members of the Tunisian Young Doctors’ Organisation, the Head of Government, the Minister of Health, representatives of the Union of Doctors, Dentists and Pharmacists of University Hospitals and activists. “It is more than ever time to publish the government decree creating this national body, which will have as its main and primary objective to save the public hospital, which is in its death throes,” he stressed.

Otjm is also asking for recognition for the young resident Badreddine Aloui, who died in a lift. It asks that his name be given to the hospital of Kasserine, which will be a recognition of the whole white army. “We demand in the same framework the payment of compensation to the family of the martyr Badrediine Aloui within a precise and documented timeframe… The hospital of Kasserine should also be named after him, which will have a great symbolic value,” says Henchiri.

The third demand is that the state should pay the young doctors who have been working since the beginning of this pandemic linked to COVID-19. “These young people have answered the call of duty and, today, it is a duty for the state to pay them…And therefore, the financial and health situation of all young doctors who have secured and ensured the fight against pandemics since March 2020 must be settled,” he says.
As for the fourth and last request, it is to protect the medical and paramedical corps in this particular context marked by a health crisis and to consider them as priorities for the anti-COVID-19 vaccine. “The organisation calls for the vaccination of all young doctors against COVID-19, including medical students who are in training in health establishments, and demands a written commitment regarding their right to be vaccinated against the coronavirus… Our organisation also insists on the safety of the medical and paramedical corps in workplaces – and especially in public hospitals and emergency rooms – where they face physical and verbal violence on a daily basis”, Henchiri stresses.

Full support

In a statement issued on Monday, March 1, 2021, the health sector unions under the Ugtt express their full support for the protest movements that the Tunisian Association of Young Doctors is observing. They denounce the lack of seriousness on the part of the government in dealing with the “legitimate” claims of the Otjm. The unions also insist on the urgency of creating the High Commission in order to save the public health sector and put all the responsibility for this situation on the government, because of the failure to respect its commitments. Furthermore, the unions stress the right of all health professionals to be vaccinated against COVID-19, especially frontline workers. They add that escalating measures would be taken if young doctors, medical managers, paramedics, workers or administrative staff were excluded from the vaccination operation.

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Maghreb intelligence: “Nadia Akacha vaccinated since January

According to the online magazine Maghreb Intelligence, the director of the cabinet of the President of the Republic, Nadia Akacha would have been vaccinated against COVID-19 since January 26, 2021, the day before her hospitalization at the military hospital in Tunis. According to the same media, citing a reliable source within the hospital, Nadia Akacha would have been a victim of complications after being vaccinated “clandestinely”. The same source added that, suffering from symptoms of acute flu, fatigue and fever, Nadia Akacha was admitted to the military hospital in Tunis on 27 January. Her hospitalisation would therefore have no link with the case of the poisoned envelope. It was simply the side effects of an injection given the day before. “Once the biological analyses were in the hands of the doctors and in the absence of any suspicious trace of pathogens, and before the doctors to find out more, she admitted having received an injection to relieve her pain and that she was not aware of the exact nature of the substance,” reads an article entitled Nadia Okacha: The New Regent of Carthage victim of a “clandestine vaccination”?

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Delivery dates for COVID-19 vaccines

Faced with the silence for which the Tunisian authorities, headed by the Ministry of Health and the scientific committee for the fight against the new coronavirus, have opted as to the exact date of the official start of the national vaccination campaign against COVID-19, the journalist and columnist at Attessia Tv, Neji Zairi chose this Wednesday, March 3, 2021, to unveil a series of data on the dates of delivery of the anti-COVID-19 vaccine. According to Neji Zairi, about 300 thousand doses of the Chinese vaccine Sinovac should be delivered to the Tunisian authorities during the next week.

2 million doses of Pfizer vaccine will arrive in Tunisia in March. A first batch of 30 thousand doses (of a total of 500 thousand doses) of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V will be delivered in a fortnight. The first batch of 30,000 doses (total 500,000 doses) of Russian Sputnik V vaccine will be delivered in two weeks. 2.5 million doses of the vaccine will be delivered to Tunisia in March under the Africa CDC programme.

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March 02, 2021

Receipt of 1,000 doses of vaccine donated by the Emirates causes controversy

After leaks, the presidency confirmed on Monday 1 March that it had received 1,000 doses of vaccine, made available to the military health services, which are responsible for distributing them in priority to medical personnel. The presidency told AFP that it was a “gift” from Abu Dhabi. The government, which said it knew nothing about it, announced “an immediate investigation into the circumstances of the arrival of these vaccines, their management and their distribution”.

[…] Independent MP Yassine Ayari said on Facebook that he was informed “a few days ago” of the arrival of these doses by diplomats. The scientific committee, heard Monday in parliament, said it was not aware of the arrival of these vaccines. Contacted by AFP, neither the presidency nor the defence ministry were able to give details on the type of vaccine or the precise date of arrival of the shipment.

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Saudi authorities require vaccination passport for pilgrimage

The debate on the vaccine passport has been going on for weeks. The big question is whether this year pilgrims will have to be vaccinated before entering Saudi territory.

According to some Western media, the vaccination passport would be imposed on all. In short, the Saudi decision imposes that to access the hajj, the anti-COVID vaccine is mandatory. In other words, only those who are vaccinated will be able to make the Hajj pilgrimage. According to Russia Today (Arabic version) the Saudi Minister of Health, Taoufik Rabia has ordered that pilgrims who want to attend the Hajj season must be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Furthermore, we tried to contact the Saudi Arabian embassy in Tunisia to find out if this was still valid for Tunisians. They were unreachable at about 3:18 pm. We will have to call back tomorrow. Remember that for the case of Tunisia, no vaccine has been granted to date, let alone the first batch. But one thing is certain for several European countries, they have already announced the implementation of a vaccination passport against COVID-19. It remains to be seen whether the whole world will impose the vaccine passport.

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