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Tourists flock to Tunisia as medics struggle to battle covid-19

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Sami Toukef/Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


It’s a busy time for tourism operators in Tunisia despite a surge in virus infection, as tourists flock into this North African nation even as medics battle the coronavirus.

According to AFP data, 1.4 deaths per 100,000 residents have been recorded per day in the last week.

At Tunisia’s Mediterranean resort of Sousse, tourists are not perturbed.

"We are with a tour operator, we get off the plane we are in a bus, gel, disinfecting and the mask. He drops us off at the hotel, I didn't see myself risking much. But there is no such thing as zero risk, and I said to myself: 'if I find myself there in quarantine with the little one' ... but the desire to come back here was too strong", said Stéphanie Wilwert, a vaccinated French tourist living in Luxembourg.

Lisa Kaurova and Nikita Shirokov are vaccinated Russian tourists and are doctors in Moscow. The 30 and 29-year-old say ‘’ we’re not worried’’.

"It’s not a problem for us. It’s a problem for the people, but not for us because there are lots of measures, there are a lot of antiseptics so we’re not worried."

Since the pandemic begun, 18,000 people have died to the virus in a country of about 12 million people.

Tourism operators say they have taken precautionary measures for their clients.

"We have trained the staff for the good practice of the health protocols, we have reduced our occupation to less than 50%, we have put a lot of sanitizing gel dispensers everywhere in the hotel, in the restaurants, bars, at the entrance of every floor and in the elevators", said Nizar Marghli, Director of hotel Sentido Bellevue Park in Sousse.

Many of the tourists come from France. The country has placed Tunisia on its travel "red list" because of the rising number of covid-19 infections.

However, those who have received both jabs against the virus are allowed to visit the country.

Tunisia has also suffered the biggest number of Covid-19 deaths in North Africa despite its small population.

On Thursday, Paris said a million vaccines would be flown to Tunisia in coming days. The French navy delivered giant oxygen tanks to boost supplies, adding to oxygen generators already provided.

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