Tunisia imposes vaccination obligations on troops as incidents surge

Tunisia, Kesla (AP) — Soldiers carry rifles to protect the health center of the traditional Tunisia village of Kesla. Inside, military health workers are using other weapons to fight COVID-19: Vaccine.

Tunisia has faced the worst coronavirus surge since the outbreak of the pandemic, further emphasizing the already crowded hospitals and health care systems of North African countries. As a result, some areas have returned to blockade, and a wave of vaccine and medical aid donations from China, France, Turkey, Italy, the United Arab Emirates and Algeria has flooded.

The Tunisian government has decided to deploy troops to vaccinate people in areas with the lowest infection rates and especially those with the lowest immunization rates.

At the Kesla Medical Center this week, surgeon Riad Arani said the turnout of the shot was “satisfactory, but weaker than the big cities where the news spreads rapidly and people come.”

“Here, many citizens are having a hard time getting to the vaccination center, so we are ready to extend our stay and give everyone the opportunity to come,” Allani told The Associated Press. It was. He said health care workers would work with local governments to vaccinate people at home, if necessary.

Data from Johns Hopkins University show that in the past month, cases confirmed in Tunisia have reached the maximum number of daily pandemics, but national immunization rates remain low. Tunisia reports the highest per capita pandemic deaths in Africa and currently records one of the highest per capita infection rates in the world, the data show.

Military health workers have vaccinated thousands of people, primarily individuals over the age of 60, in Kesla and elsewhere in the Siliana region of central Tunisia. The campaign at Kesra used the Chinese Sinovac vaccine.

The military said medical deployments could be extended to other regions in the coming days. The Tunisian president said the military would send helicopters to mountainous areas to carry vaccines to remote villages.

Raffica Afur, a resident of Kesla, said she was skeptical of receiving the injection, although she was summoned twice to get the vaccine.

“When I heard the arrival of the army, I decided to vaccinate, because … to me, (the army) is more honest than the other armies,” Achour said at the vaccination site. It was.

To encourage and raise awareness, Tunisian President Kais Saied received his first dose of the vaccine on Monday.

Meanwhile, aid is arriving near and far.

The United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Algeria have sent hundreds of thousands of vaccines and medicines to Tunisia. A cargo of medical assistance came in at sea from Italy on Friday. France has promised another 800,000 COVID-19 vaccines this week, and China has promised 400,000, according to Tunisia’s TAP news agency.

As of Saturday, Tunisia reported more than 17,000 deaths and more than 533,000 confirmed cases since the onset of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins data.


Yesica Fisch in Dakar, Senegal contributed to this report.


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