Tunisian authorities announced additional restrictions on Friday, October 9, to be imposed in multiple regions following an increase in the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases recorded. Municipal authorities in the Greater Tunis area, which includes Tunis, Ben Arous, Ariana, and Manouba, previously announced that an overnight curfew will be enforced across the region from Thursday, October 8. The curfew is in effect from 21:00 to 05:00 (local time) Monday to Friday, with a longer 19:00 to 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. A 20:00 to 06:00 curfew is in effect in Sousse and Monastir provinces through October 15. During the curfew, nonessential businesses will be closed and public gatherings remain banned. A 20:00 to 05:00 curfew also remains in place in the Sidi Bouzid governorate cities of Sidi Bouzid and Sabala. The latest regional restrictions imposed by municipal authorities include:
- Djerba Island: As of Sunday, October 11, there will be a 21:00-05:00 nightly curfew; authorities have not clarified how long the curfew will be in place.
- Bizerte Governorate: A 20:00-05:00 nightly curfew in place for 15 days from Saturday, October 10. Essential businesses will be permitted to operate during the curfew.
- Gabes Governorate: A 20:00-05:00 nightly curfew is in place for 15 days as of October 9. Restaurants and cafes are only permitted to provide takeaway services.
- Kef Governorate: A 20:00-05:00 nightly curfew in place for 15 days as of October 7. Travel outside the city is prohibited and Friday prayers will not be permitted. Restaurants and cafes may only provide takeaway services.
- Kasserine Governorate: A nightly 19:00-05:00 curfew is effective for 10 days. Weekly markets have been shut down, and public baths are required to close. A ban on public gatherings and reduced working hours for government workers will continue through at least October 20.
Face masks remain mandatory in public places nationwide. Schools remain closed though universities have reopened following strict hygiene measures. Nonessential businesses are permitted to resume operations at 70 percent capacity. Restaurants and cafes have reopened, following social distancing regulations. Public transport is also operating at 50 percent capacity.
Authorities reopened land, sea, and air borders previously, following strict restrictions and requirements for individuals entering the country, depending on their country of origin. Authorities have categorized countries as either green, orange, or red locations, dependent on the risk of COVID-19 transmission in these areas. Those arriving from "green" locations, which are deemed low-risk for COVID-19 transmission, will not be tested or be required to self-isolate upon arrival. Those arriving from "orange" locations will be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours prior to departure, quarantine for at least 14 days upon arrival, and sign an official declaration. Tunisians are required to self-isolate for 14 days at home. Those arriving from "red" countries are not permitted to enter the country unless they are Tunisian nationals and residents, and will be required to quarantine for seven days.
As of October 9, there have been 26,899 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 409 associated fatalities. 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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