Municipal authorities in the Greater Tunis governorates of Tunis, Ben Arous, Ariana, and Manouba have announced that an overnight curfew will be enforced across the region from Thursday, October 8, following a marked increase in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases. The new curfew will run from 21:00 to 05:00 (local time) Monday to Friday, with a longer 19:00 - 05:00 curfew in place at weekends, for 15 days until October 23. Weekly markets and Friday prayer meetings will also be prohibited for the next two weeks under the increased restrictions, whilst cafes and restaurants will no longer be able to serve dine-in customers.
The new restrictions in the capital come a week after similar nightly curfews were imposed in the Monastir and Sousse regions in response to a surge in COVID-19 cases. A 20:00 - 05:00 curfew also remains in place in the Sidi Bouzid governorate cities of Sidi Bouzid and Sabala.
On Saturday, October 3, Tunisian authorities announced that a total ban on gatherings had been implemented across the country and working hours reduced for public sector employees. Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi also gave the country's regional governors permission to impose local lockdowns if necessary.
Having largely succeeded in controlling the spread of COVID-19 through a strict nationwide lockdown in March, Tunisia has seen a significant increase in cases of the disease in recent weeks, with an average of more than 1000 new cases per day since September 20. As of October 8, there have been 24,542 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country, with 362 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell, or a rash on the skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone non-essential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
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