Tunisia's foreign minister tests positive for Covid-19

Death toll mounts as Tunisia grapples with a recent spike in coronavirus cases

Tunisia's Foreign Minister Othman Jerandi speaks during a press conference at Carthage Palace on the eastern outskirts Tunis on October 12, 2020. - The UN's Libya envoy urged rival parties to place the national interest before political ambitions when they meet for talks next month aimed at ending a decade of bloodshed. Neighbouring Tunisia is set to host talks in early November including representatives of civil society, tribesmen, political leaders, and members of bodies representing both administrations. (Photo by FETHI BELAID / AFP)
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Tunisian Foreign Minister Othman Jerandi said he had contracted Covid-19 and was suffering severe  symptoms.

"Today, my tests confirmed that I have Covid-19, despite taking all the necessary precautions and respecting the health protocol. Severe symptoms, I ask God for safety for everyone," Mr Jerandi announced in a tweet on Monday.

He said becoming seriously ill had made him more committed to providing Tunisians with vaccinations against Covid-19.

Tunisia has had more than 197,000 Covid-19 cases, including 2,059 reported on Thursday. The death toll from the disease rose by 80 to 6,234, the Health Ministry said, with 2,165 cases admitted to hospital, including 418 in intensive care.

The pandemic has also affected Tunisia's economy, with its vital tourism industry grinding to a halt.

Demonstrators have clashed with police across the country in the past week during protests over the economic conditions.

Tunisia’s economy is estimated to have contracted by 8.2 per cent in 2020, resulting in higher poverty and unemployment, the International Monetary Fund said last week.

More than one in three people are unemployed, according to the World Bank, while consumer prices continue to increase.

Although the IMF expects Tunisia’s GDP growth to rebound to 3.8 per cent this year as the effects of the pandemic-induced economic crisis begin to wane, it said considerable downside risks remain because of the uncertainty surrounding the duration and intensity of the pandemic and the timing of vaccination programmes.