Tunisian Prime Minister tests positive for coronavirus as case count climbs

'A Covid tsunami is hitting the country,' Tunisian scientist says

Tunisian Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi speaks during an interview with Reuters in Tunis, Tunisia April 30, 2021.  REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi

Tunisian Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi has tested positive for the coronavirus, a statement issued by the president's office on Friday said, as case counts continue to surge across the North African nation.

The government confirmed that the prime minister, who had already received his second dose of the vaccine on May 25, would continue to work in isolation and receive a follow-up test next week. It was not immediately clear whether he had received the Pfizer, Sinopharm or Sputnik V vaccine.

Mr Mechichi is one of more than 3,500 Tunisians who have tested positive each day in recent weeks as a new surge hits the country.

Positivity rates in some regions are topping 50 per cent and hospitals are groaning under the burden. Photos have been posted to social media of patients in oxygen masks lying in hospital hallways or on folding chairs.

Six cases of the Delta variant, first discovered in India, have been reported in Tunisia in recent days and the Covid-19 death rate has reached an record high.

Despite the dire outlook, the government on Friday demurred from imposing a nationwide lockdown after an emergency meeting of the independent scientific committee that advises officials on the pandemic.

Instead, the government reaffirmed its current nationwide measures, which include a 10pm curfew, while placing stricture measures on four regions.

Many feel the government is failing to take the decisive action needed to save lives.

“A Covid tsunami is hitting the country as the number of positive tests is very high, the number of deaths sometimes exceeds 100 per day and intensive care beds are almost full,” Amenallah Messadi, a member of the scientific committee, said earlier in the week.

Updated: June 27th 2021, 5:19 AM