Coronavirus: Prime Minister announces change in work hours to single shift in public sector [Upd 1]
04/10/2020 00:50, TUNIS/Tunisia

(TAP) – Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi ruled out re-imposing a nationwide lockdown on Saturday evening, announcing a reduction in work hours in the public sector to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

In a televised speech, the Premier announced a package of measures over two weeks amid an upsurge in the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths.

Mechichi said normal classes in schools, universities and vocational training institutions will be maintained along with work in businesses, urging Tunisians to strictly comply with the health protocol.

Among the measures taken, the obligation to wear masks in public and closed spaces, public transport and commercial facilities open to the public.

The PM also announced a ban on all gatherings and public or private demonstrations.

"The lockdown scenario is not conceivable," Mechichi affirmed, adding that Tunisia cannot bear the cost of economic paralysis.

Mechichi said re-imposing lockdown is not the ideal solution to fight the virus, inviting all Tunisians to support the efforts of the State in the fight against the epidemic which has gained ground in recent days.

The Prime Minister said he has given instructions to governors to implement a regional lockdown and impose a curfew, if necessary.

In addition, he praised the efforts of the medics and paramedics al to halt the spread of the pandemic, announcing an increase in the number of beds and testing for COVID-19

"By the end of October, the number of ventilator beds will increase from 400 to 1200 in the public health sector and from 150 to 700 in the private sector," he said.

The number of intensive care beds, which is currently around 95 in state institutions, will also be brought to 220 by the end of October, the PM added.

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