The epidemiological situation in Tunisia is "catastrophic". This is how the Tunisian government has described it following the spike in cases in recent days, which has led to the highest number of infections since the start of the pandemic. According to the spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, Nisaf ben Alaya, the rapid increase in the number of cases and deaths has caused great pressure on the health system, which is at maximum occupancy rates in several provinces of the country.
Faced with this situation, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates have sent "urgent" health aid to Tunisia with the aim of resolving the health and epidemiological situation in the country. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccans Living Abroad issued a statement in which it said that the medical assistance destined for Tunisia will consist of two "full recovery" units, with a total capacity of 100 beds, 100 respirators and two oxygen generators.
Alaya reported that help was needed in hospitals as they try to "cope with the lack of oxygen" and stressed that the health system is at "maximum risk of collapse if the trend is not reversed", as reported by the Tunisian news portal Tunisia Numerique.
The Tunisian Ministry of Health reported in its latest balance sheet a total of 8,315 COVID-19 infections and 126 deaths, which would bring the total to 473,229 infected and 15,861 dead. In this context, it has been decided to ban travel until 31 July and to extend the rest of the restrictions, according to the Prime Minister's office, Hichem Mechichi.
A copy of which has been accessed by Al-Ain News, indicated that "Moroccan aid will be delivered by Royal Armed Forces aircraft". Tunisia has also received aid from the United Arab Emirates in response to the worsening epidemiological situation, which is reported to have caused more than 100 deaths per day and reached a record number of wounded, with 10,000 people affected.
A plane carrying 500,000 doses of vaccine was sent from the Emirates. This support is implemented by the directives of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces to "improve the health conditions of the Tunisian people in the face of the coronavirus pandemic".
Meanwhile, UAE Ambassador to Tunisia Rashid Mohamed al-Mansoori said in a statement that "the directives to send doses of COVID-19 vaccines come within the framework of the UAE's support to the Tunisian people to address the health conditions that Tunisia is experiencing with the pandemic conditions".
During November 2020, the UAE also sent a health aid package to Tunisia in a plane carrying urgent medical supplies including 11 tonnes of medical equipment, ventilators, mobile health units for this purpose and protective materials for health professionals.
Alongside this, Saudi Arabia has also provided medical aid to Tunisia. In this regard, King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud sent humanitarian aid to support the country with medical and preventive supplies and equipment to help overcome the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The Saudi aid includes one million coronavirus vaccines, 190 artificial respirators, 319 oxygen concentrators, 150 medical beds and 50 trolley-based vital signs monitoring devices, as well as medical supplies.
In addition to Saudi Arabia, France, Egypt and Libya have also sent medical and humanitarian aid to Tunisia. The Tunisian government has already announced that the army will join the vaccination campaign and that the creation of sites will be accelerated to speed up the immunisation plan. Since last March, only 2.5 million doses of vaccines have been inoculated in Tunisia and only 10 per cent of the population has received the full vaccination schedule.