Tunisia announces a new lockdown during the Aid el-Fitr holidays
To deal with the third wave of infections, Tunisia announced on Friday a general lockdown that will go into effect from 9 to 16 May, coinciding with the festivities of Eid el-Fitr, which marks the breaking of fasting in the holy month of Ramadan for Muslims.The decision was announced yesterday by Tunis Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi, after consulting with the scientific committee.
The head of the government underlined during his speech the need to comply with preventive health measures and the urgency of resorting to more stringent measures in consideration of the seriousness of the health situation across the country. Tunisia has been experiencing a surge in infections in the last two weeks, with the beds in intensive care collapsing.
The Tunisian authorities have made it clear that the measures governing entry from abroad remain in force, while people who have to go to the vaccination centers are allowed to move. To enter Tunisia, it is necessary to submit a negative PCR test carried out no more than 72 hours before arrival at the airport, as well as undergo voluntary isolation in a hotel recognized by the Tunisian Government. After five days it is recommended to undergo a further test before returning to circulate.
Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi also announced the closure of mosques and a ban on gathering. Many have criticized the government’s choice to close the country during the holidays, complaining about the lack of support for activities, already severely tested by the pandemic.Revenues from the tourism sector decreased by 55% in the first four months of 2021, compared to the same period of 2020. This can be seen from the monetary and financial indicators released by the Central Bank of Tunisia (BCT).
Revenues from tourism, on which the Tunisian economy is based, from January to the end of April, went from 536.3 million dinars to 439.2 million dinars (equal to 132 million euros) as of April 30th this year. The Tunis government has decided on measures for professionals in the sector to cope with the fallout from the pandemic, especially since the tourism sector is one of the sectors most affected by this health crisis.
The Tunisian Ministry of Tourism is currently implementing a promotion strategy for 2021, said the Minister of Tourism and Crafts Habib Ammar. The national vaccination campaign will help provide clear insight to various tour operators and tourists wishing to visit Tunisia, he added.
Tunisia has recorded 317,010 registered Covid-19 cases and 11,208 deaths since the outbreak began, but what is worrying is the shortage of hospital beds, with 90% of ICU beds occupied, according to the Health Minister Faouzi Mehdi. There are 2684 hospitalized patients, of which 508 in reanimation and 152 in assisted breathing.
The national vaccination campaign that started on March 13th is proceeding rather slowly. So far, according to the Tunisian Ministry of Health, 444,490 people have received the first dose of the vaccine, only 113,696 the second.