Tunisia suspends Covid vaccine 'Open Days' after brawls

Mechichi fires health minister for 'repeated failures'

21 July, 16:58

    TUNISI - Tunisia's health ministry late Tuesday evening suspended the second day of COVID vaccinations open to all, scheduled for Wednesday, after brawling and long lines on the first 'Open Day' in the 29 vaccinations centers open in an exceptional manner across the country for the religious holiday of Eid al-Adha.

    Poor organization led to thousands of people who had been waiting outside the centers being unable to get their vaccine.

    This latest of a string of failures and malfunctioning in the management of the COVID emergency previously blamed on the ministry led to Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi replacing Health Minister Faouzi Mehdi for an interim period with current Minister for Social Affairs Mohamed Trabelsi.

    "There was an extraordinary dysfunction at the head of the ministry. I no longer recognise the department despite it having a large number of scientific and management skills at its disposable. The numerous failures seen in the daily management of the crisis, however, led us to make this decision," the prime minister said.

    According to the latest figures from the ministry, which said that the Open Days will resume soon, Tunisia has recorded 177 deaths from COVID and 6,158 new infections out of 19,533,240 tests conducted: 31.53%.

    The North African country, the hospitals in which have reached capacity, has recorded 554,911 infections and 17,821 deaths so far.

    Its vaccination campaign began on March 13 and, despite the efforts of the authorities, is proceeding slowly: almost 2.5 million people have received one dose and 825,410 two doses out of a total of about 12 million inhabitants.

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