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Tunisia allows regions to impose nightly curfews amid COVID-19 spike

The North African country has reported more than 40,000 infections since March.

In an effort to combat a dramatic uptick in coronavirus cases, Tunisian Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi has given governors across the country the authority to impose nightly curfews beginning Tuesday.

Reuters reports that the new order builds on the curfews already imposed this month in several parts of the country, including the capital, Tunis. The movement restrictions come as the number of coronavirus cases across Tunisia has swelled to more than 40,000. 

The North African country reported more than 5,000 new infections last week. Former Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh and leading politician Abir Moussi have both announced they contracted the virus.  

Tunisia’s early efforts to bring the virus under control were successful, but the country’s already fragile economy was hit hard. Shortly after reporting its first case of the virus in March, authorities imposed a nationwide lockdown on travel, imposed a strict curfew, and quarantined patients with mild symptoms in hotels and other designated facilities. 

Tunisia started easing restrictions in early May, and in June reopened mosques, hotels and restaurants, as well as the country’s land, sea and air borders. 

Mechichi’s new government has said Tunisia cannot afford another full-blown lockdown. The International Monetary Fund expects Tunisia’s economy to contract by 4.3% in 2020 due to the pandemic, in what would be the worst recession since the country gained its independence in 1956.

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