Tunisia’s Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi sacked Health Minister Faouzi Mehdi on Tuesday, amid a spike in coronavirus cases in the country.
Tunisia’s health system had “collapsed” under the weight of the pandemic, which has claimed over 17,000 lives in 12 million strong country.
Mechichi’s announced Social Affairs Minister Mohamed Trabelsi would head the ministry in an acting capacity without giving further details.
The ministry restricted access to vaccination to those aged 40 and above after a temporary opening of vaccination stations to all Tunisians over 18 led to stampedes.
Tunisia reported 117 new coronavirus deaths on Sunday and 2,520 new cases, bringing the total recorded cases to more than half a million.
Mehdi’s sacking is another case following several resignations by ministers over tensions with parliament and the presidency.
Recently, Health ministry spokeswoman Nissaf Ben Alya on a local radio station said the health situation was “catastrophic…unfortunately, the health system has collapsed”.
Many victims with cases of covid have been left lying in rooms next to other patients for over 24 hours, because there were no enough staff to organise their transfer to overstretched mortuaries.
Since their 2011 revolution which overthrew Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisians have lived through a decade of political uncertainty and economic chaos.
In a related development, Mechichi visited the headquarters of the Directorate General of Intervention Units in Bouchoucha on Tuesday, on the occasion of the celebration of Eid Al-Idha.
The Premier further took note of the preparations undertaken by various units to meet all threats targeting Tunisia, such as organised crime and extremism.