Tunisia orders nationwide lockdown to stem the virus


Rana Jawad BBC North Africa correspondent, Tunis

Tunisia will be going into a four-day nationwide lockdown starting on Thursday to stem the spread of Covid-19 infections.

The North African state has been struggling to reduce the number of infections since September. It has so far confirmed over 160,000 cases since the pandemic started with more than 5,000 deaths.

The government has been avoiding a nationwide lockdown for months, opting instead for a nightly curfew that has been in place since October.

But the infection rate has not decreased with at least 300 new cases being confirmed daily.

Health Minister Faouzi Mehdi told a news conference that new measures will include extending the night curfew, which will now start from 1700GMT to 0500GMT.

Schools will also be closed from Wednesday until 24 January.

The nationwide lockdown will start on a day that marks a decade since the toppling of former autocratic ruler Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali following mass protests.

The country’s economy has been struggling over the years and the coronavirus pandemic has contributed further to its downturn.