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Tunisia to lock down for four days from Thursday

A general view shows a empty promenade at Lake Tunis, as the country extended the lockdown by two weeks to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Tunis, Tunisia April 1, 2020. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi

TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisia will impose a four-day national lockdown from Thursday along with lesser measures lasting until Jan. 24 to combat a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases, Health Minister Fouzi Mehdi said on Tuesday.

“The situation is very critical and the vaccination will not come before February,” Mehdi said.

Other measures will include rotating staffing in state jobs to reduce people in offices and transport, school closures, longer curfew hours and the removal of all chairs from cafes.

On Monday Tunisia announced a new record high for confirmed cases in a day of 3,074 and said the intensive care units in most public hospitals were full.

Thursday is a national holiday to mark the anniversary of Tunisia’s revolution a decade ago when it threw off autocratic rule for democracy.

An earlier lockdown in the spring successfully contained the coronavirus, but caused great financial pain in a country where economic woes have undermined faith in successive democratic governments.

President Kais Saied has called for a partial lockdown in the regions experiencing rapid infection.

Tunisia banned travel among the country’s regions and extended a nightly curfew in October, as it tried to contain the pandemic.

The new curfew will be from 4 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Reporting by Tarek Amara, writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Cynthia Osterman

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