UAE sends Covid-19 vaccines to Tunisia

The medical aid touched down in Tunis on Tuesday

A plane carrying 500,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses, donated by the UAE, arrived in Tunisia on Tuesday, after Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, ordered the donation.

Arab countries have united to support the north African nation as it struggles to contain the coronavirus and its oxygen supplies run dangerously low.

Libya has pledged to send medical aid, the president's office said on Tuesday. Kuwait, Turkey and Algeria have also promised to help.

Qatar has already sent a military plane with a field hospital on board, including 200 medics and 100 respirators.

Saudi Arabia will provide Tunisia with “urgent support” to fight Covid-19 following a call between Tunisian President Kais Saied and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

After successfully containing the virus during the first wave last year, Tunisia is now grappling with a rise in infections.

While it imposed movement restrictions in some cities last week, the country has rejected a full national lockdown due to economic concerns.

"We are in a catastrophic situation ... the health system has collapsed, we can only find a bed in hospitals with great difficulty," Tunisian health ministry spokesperson Nisaf Ben Alaya said.

"We are struggling to provide oxygen ... doctors are suffering from unprecedented fatigue," she said. "The boat is sinking."

The total number of coronavirus cases in Tunisia has climbed to around 480,000, with more than 16,000 deaths.

On Monday, Tunisia recorded 106 deaths and reported 4,300 new cases.

Vaccinations lag far behind other countries. So far, only 715,000 people have received two doses out of 11.6 million residents.

The president's office said last week the US pledged to donate 500,000 vaccination doses.

Updated: July 13th 2021, 7:42 PM