The Ministry of Health said earlier this month that Tunisia’s health system “collapsed” under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic.
As the number of coronavirus cases in North African countries is spiraling, Tunisian Prime Minister Hichem Mecic fired Health Minister Fauz Mehdi.
The ministry said earlier this month that Tunisia’s health system “collapsed” under the weight of the pandemic, killing more than 17,000 out of a population of approximately 12 million.
Mechichi’s office announced Mehdi’s dismissal in a brief statement on Tuesday, but did not specify the reason for the move.
It said that the Minister of Social Affairs Mohamed Trabelsi will lead the ministry as a caretaker.
Mehdi has started to temporarily open vaccination stations to all Tunisians over 18 years of age on Tuesday and Wednesday, resulting in a stampede.
The ministry restricted vaccinations for people over 40 on Wednesday to avoid a new peak.
The dismissal of Mehdi is another example of government instability, as several ministers resigned due to tensions with parliament and the presidency.
On Sunday, Tunisia reported 117 new coronavirus deaths and 2,520 new cases, bringing the total number of recorded cases to more than 500,000.
Nissaf Ben Alya, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, stated on July 8 that the health condition was “catastrophic” and she told a local radio station that “unfortunately, the health system has collapsed.”
The bodies of some COVID-19 victims were left in a room adjacent to other patients for up to 24 hours because there were not enough staff to organize their transfer to an overly stressful morgue.
The Ministry of Health’s Facebook page stated that the special field hospitals established in recent months are no longer enough.
After Ben Alya’s announcement, the war-torn neighbor Libya’s government stated that it had decided to close their common border and suspend air contact with Tunisia for a week.
Several countries from the Gulf countries to the former colonial powers France and Mauritania have provided medical assistance.
Since June 20, the authorities have imposed a total blockade of six areas and a partial blockade of the capital.
Since the revolution that overthrew dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, Tunisians have experienced a decade of political instability and economic crisis, leading to the collapse of important public services.