Africa

Tunisia vaccinates more than half a million people in a day

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A man receives a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at a vaccination centre in Tunis, Tunisia, April 26, 2021. Picture taken April 26, 2021. REUTERS/Jihed Abidellaoui

TUNIS, Aug 8 (Reuters) - More than half a million Tunisians received vaccinations on Sunday as part of a national campaign to control the outbreak of COVID-19 after the country received more than 6 million vaccine doses from Western and Arab countries.

The slow pace of vaccinations and the handling of the pandemic caused a wave of protests against the government of Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi, who was dismissed by President Kais Saied two weeks ago among a series of emergency measures.

Five months after the start of vaccinations in the North African country, 1.3 million Tunisians have received two doses.

In an effort to speed up the vaccination schedule, Tunisia opened vaccinations for those over the age of 40, with thousands flocking to inoculation centers. The Health Ministry said 551,00 people received a vaccination on Sunday.

Intensive care units and emergency departments are full in hospitals across Tunisia. Doctors have complained of exhaustion and a shortage of oxygen supplies.

Tunisia seeks to vaccinate 50% of its 11.6 million people by mid-October.

The country has reported more than 20,000 deaths and more than 610,000 coronavirus infections since the pandemic began.

Reporting by Tarek Amara; Editing by Peter Cooney

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