Tunis/Tunisia — "The number of COVID-19 patients requiring intensive care is still low compared to the accommodation capacity available in hospitals," Health Minister Faouzi Mehdi affirmed on Wednesday.
"Out of about 70 hospitalisations, 17 are currently in intensive care units (ICUs)," Director General of the National Observatory of New and Emerging Diseases Nissaf Ben Alaya said at a press conference held at the ministry seat in Tunis.
In this vein, she specified that an assessment is made on a daily basis to update the number of the available beds and ensure the social security coverage for all.
Provisional suspension of classes in case of COVID-19
Explaining the measures to be taken in case COVID-19 infection cases in schools are reported, Ben Alaya specified that in case of censing 3 infection cases in the same classroom, testing will involve the whole classroom, including the teachers.
"Classes will thereafter be provisionally suspended in this classroom pending the assessment of the epidemiological situation and the follow-up of all confirmed cases."
"If there are 3 cases grouped in 3 different classrooms, the whole school will be temporarily closed for about 14 days pending assessment of the epidemiological situation and follow-up of confirmed cases," she added.
Taking the floor, Director of the School and University Healthcare at the Health Ministry Ahlem Gzara recalled that a general anti-COVID-19 health protocol related to the back-to-school season had recently been adopted by the National Scientific Council and inked by all concerned departments.
On this occasion, she pointed out that all departments are called upon to adapt the health protocol according to the specificities of each sector and to ensure its implementation, adding that a guide on psychological support for teachers and pupils in the COVID context-19 is available on the Ministry's website to help the teacher recognise and manage the signs of anxiety among students.
Water tanks in 300 schools
In co-ordination with international organisations, such as the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), water tanks will be provided to about 300 schools, the health minister said.
Additional funds will be dedicated to reducing the hospitals' debts with the Central Pharmacy and guaranteeing medicines, he pointed out.
As regards the general epidemiological situation, Nissaf Ben Alaya indicated that the COVID-19 infection is spreading swiftly and mainly affects those aged between 30 and 50.
"In Tunisia, the number of cases is increasing, but active screening has also been reinforced and the level of vigilance is very high," she assured, calling to comply with the prevention measures to avoid contraction of the virus.
According to the same source, all detected infection chains are immediately encircled and the active screening of relatives is increased.
"80% of the relatives of a confirmed infection case are automatically diagnosed, which represents a high rate that complies to the standards of the World Health Organisation (WHO)," she indicated.
Thanks to this strategy the number of new infections dropped in Kairouan and El Hamma which had recently recorded high rates of infection cases, she specified.
As for vaccination, Director General of Pasteur Institute Hechmi Louzir pointed to the importance of intensifying the anti-flu vaccination which will kick off next October, for all persons at risk and the chronically ill in order to protect them from health complications.