Tunisia relaxes curfew with virus outbreak slowing
TUNIS - Tunisia has announced a reduction of its nightly curfew hours, state media reported on Wednesday, after three consecutive days without recording any new coronavirus cases and as the government relaxes a general lockdown.
The North African democracy imposed the curfew in March, aiming to slow the spread of the virus by keeping people at home, combined with a lockdown that shuttered all but key shops and services.
President Kais Saied has cut the curfew hours to 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. instead of 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., state news agency TAP reported, 10 days after the start of a gradual reopening of the bureaucracy and economy.
It follows the government’s announcement that no new coronavirus cases have been recorded for three days in a row, with 1,032 confirmed cases in total and 45 deaths.
Senior health and hospital officials in different parts of the country told Reuters there were very few coronavirus patients still in care, indicating that the reduction in the number of new cases is not down to a lack of testing.
However, government officials have warned of a possible second wave and kept in place many restrictions on movement including the closure of schools, mosques, cafes and restaurants.
Tunisia has only 500 intensive care beds equipped with ventilators and the government said at the start of the outbreak that the health system would struggle to cope with more than 5,000 cases.
City and town centres have become far busier since the lockdown was relaxed to allow a wider range of shops to open, with crowded markets and even busy public beaches.
Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh said in a television interview on Tuesday that the government would require about 5 billion euros ($5.4 billion) in external funding this year, double the amount previously expected.