Tunisia tightens precautionary measures to curb rapid spread of COVID-19

TUNIS, TUNISIA - SEPTEMBER 03: Tunisia's 16th Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi arrives to attend the government handover ceremony at Carthage Palace in the capital Tunis, Tunisia on September 03, 2020. Mechichi's Cabinet won a vote of confidence yesterday. A total of 134 deputies voted in favor and 67 against forming the government in voting held at the parliament. (Photo by Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: Tunisian Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi. (Photo by Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Tunisia tightened precautionary measures amid a rapid spread of COVID-19 across the country, according to a statement released by the government on Thursday.

The measures, taken after a meeting between Tunisian Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and members of Tunisia’s committee to confront COVID-19 and several ministers, included the extension of the night curfew, suspension of the collective prayer, a ban of gatherings and suspension of classes.

Mechichi authorized all 24 governors to announce a curfew in their provinces, from Monday to Friday between 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. local time and on Saturday and Sunday from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m..

It was also decided to ban travel and inter-provincial traffic, “except for absolute and exceptional emergencies,” the statement said.

“Closed spaces can host 30 percent of their capacity and open spaces, cafes as well as restaurants can be open at 50 percent. These spaces will be forced to close from 4 p.m.,” it added.

The Tunisian government has decided to suspend classes of schools, colleges and high schools from October 28 to November 8 and courses in public and private universities for a period of two weeks.

The preventive measures also included the ban of public and private events, from October 30 to November 15, as well as the prohibition of gatherings of more than four people in a public space except for public transport such as metros and buses.

The government has confirmed that prayers in mosques will be suspended until November 15.

Tunisian Ministry of Health said on Wednesday that 5,968 tests were carried out during October 25-26, which revealed the infection of 2,125 more people with COVID-19, raising the total tally to 54,278 in the North African country.

According to the ministry, the death toll from the virus rose by 52 to 1,153.