Tunisia To Ban Gatherings, Cut Work Hours Over Coronavirus

Tunisia is set to re-introduce a ban on all gatherings to arrest the spike in coronavirus cases since it reopened its borders in June.

The North African country will also reduce working hours for employees in the public sector to stop the rapid spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi said on Saturday.

The decision was taken as fears grew that hospitals in the country will be unable to cope with a high number of patients because of the shortage of beds in intensive care units.

The number of coronavirus cases has jumped to more than 20,000 compared with about 1,000 cases before the country’s borders were reopened on June 27.

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On Friday, the country’s health ministry announced there were 1,308 new coronavirus cases since Wednesday, a record since the start of the pandemic, prompting the government to impose night-time travel restrictions in two governorates.

The new measures, in Sousse and Monastir, were designed to curb the increase in infections.

In a speech announcing the latest measures to combat the virus, Mechichi said he gave orders to Tunisia’s governors to introduce regional lockdowns if necessary.

But he said it is unthinkable to reimpose a nationwide lockdown because of the economic collapse caused by the first lockdown in March.

Tunisia’s tourism-dependent economy shrank 21.6 per cent in the second quarter compared with the same period last year as a result of the pandemic and measures to curb it.

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