Tunisian PM tests positive for coronavirus as case count climbs

Hospitals struggle to cope with surge as around 3,500 new cases reported each day

FILE PHOTO: Tunisian Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi appears in a news conference in Tunis, Tunisia, on June 3, 2021. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi/File Photo
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Tunisian Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi has tested positive for the coronavirus, as cases continue to surge across the country.

The government said on Friday that Mr Mechichi  – who had received his second dose of Covid-19 vaccine on May 25 – would continue to work in isolation and receive a follow-up test next week.

It was not immediately clear which vaccine he had received.

Mr Mechichi is one of more than 3,500 Tunisians who have tested positive for Covid-19 each day in recent weeks.

In some regions, 50 per cent of those tested are positive and hospitals are groaning under the burden.

Photos have been posted to social media of patients in oxygen masks lying in hospital corridors or sitting in folding chairs.

Six cases of the Delta variant, first discovered in India, have been reported in Tunisia in recent days.  Around 90 deaths have been recorded daily.

Despite the outlook, the government on Friday demurred from imposing a nationwide lockdown, after an emergency meeting of its independent scientific advisory committee.

Instead, ministers reaffirmed current nationwide measures – which include a 10pm curfew – while placing stricter measures on four regions.

Some experts 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 last  week.