Tunisia’s government in chaos after PM condemns ex-health minister for ‘dysfunction’ during Covid pandemic

Tunisia’s Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi has condemned his ex-health minister, Faouzi Mehdi, for a dismal handling of the Covid pandemic, after dismissing him over “an extraordinary level of dysfunction” at the health ministry.

The firing of Mehdi was announced in a statement posted to the prime minister’s Facebook page on Tuesday evening, as the nation battles rapidly rising Covid case numbers that are threatening to overwhelm its health system.

“There’s an extraordinary level of dysfunction at the head of the health ministry,” Mechichi declared, citing how hospitals are suffering from a lack of oxygen for Covid patients, as well as the slow vaccine rollout throughout the nation. So far, only 8% of the country’s population is fully vaccinated.

Mehdi was removed from his position after inoculation stations were temporarily opened to over-18s, causing stampedes that quickly used up existing vaccine supplies, in a situation the prime minister described as “populist” and “criminal.”

According to Mechichi’s statement, the health ministry had failed to inform the government, local governors or security services that the vaccine program would be expanded, so centers could be properly prepared.

Despite the government’s decision to blame the health ministry for the shortfalls, Selim Kharrat, a board member at a Tunisian NGO, claimed that the government had been informed about potential oxygen shortages months ago but had failed to act. With health facilities struggling to cope with the influx of Covid patients, Kharrat suggested the health minister’s firing was an attempt to scapegoat him and protect the prime minister.

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Data presented to the World Health Organization shows that, currently, Tunisia has the third highest rate of daily Covid deaths per population globally. Since the start of the pandemic, the north-African state has recorded 546,233 confirmed cases of Covid and 17,527 deaths with the virus, with a significant spike in the past month, reaching around 50,000 cases per week throughout July.

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Source:RT World News

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