Tunisia foreign minister tests positive for coronavirus

Tunisia foreign minister tests positive for coronavirus
Tunisia's Foreign Minister Othman Jerandi is the latest high-profile victim of Covid-19
2 min read
26 January, 2021
Jerandi has contracted the coronavirus [Getty]

Tunisia's Foreign Minister Othman Jerandi has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to an official statement late Sunday.

Jerandi confirmed in a tweet that he has the virus and said that his symptoms are "severe".  

"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 the safety for everyone," he said, according to Reuters.

The foreign minister said that his own personal experience of the coronavirus has made him more determined to see a mass inoculation programme introduced to the North African country.

"This has made me more insistent on the supply of vaccines to protect my country's people from the pandemic," he said, according to Asharq Alawsat.

Tunisia is due to receive its first shipment of a Covid-19 vaccine in early February and the government aims to vaccinate a third of the population by April.

The health ministry said it will obtain 6 million doses of Pfizer vaccines in April via the WHO's COVAX programme and another 4 million will be made available through other means. 

It comes at a critical time for Tunisia, which has seen a sharp increase in coronavirus cases with one of the highest infection rates in Africa.

On Thursday, Tunisia reported 103 deaths, its highest daily toll with the total number rising to 6,287 on Monday.

The economy has also been a victim of the health crisis, leading to higher unemployment and instability.

Tunisian youths clashed with police over the weekend as new lockdown measures were announced.

They demanded the release of around 1,000 people detained for theft and vandalism.

Health Ministry spokesperson Nissaf Ben Alaya threatened "drastic measures" against anyone breaking lockdown measures, saying it comes "at a critical juncture" in Tunisia's battle against the disease.

Further clashes between protesters and police took place on Monday after a young man died when he was hit with tear gas canister.

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