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 sparked 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 Covid-19 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 centres. The Health Ministry said 551,000 people received a vaccination on Sunday.
Tunisia seeks to vaccinate 50 percent of its 11.6 million people by mid-October.
Intensive care units and emergency departments are full in hospitals across Tunisia. Doctors have complained of exhaustion and a shortage of oxygen supplies.
The World Health Organization said last week that Tunisia, which has the world’s worst officially declared Covid-19 death toll, may be over the peak of the latest wave but the government must still speed up inoculations.
“The epidemiological data are going in the right direction,” the WHO representative in Tunisia, Yves Souteyrand, told a press conference.
The Delta variant is responsible for “more than 90 percent” of cases in Tunisia, which on Sunday registered 2,546 new cases, raising infections to a total of 610,660 with almost 21,000 deaths.