Tunisia eases lockdown as zero cases registered in five days

People leave a train station, as Tunisia relaxes some of its lockdown rules while keeping other restrictions in place, as preventive measures against the spread of COVID-19, in La Marsa, Tunisia. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 15 May 2020

Tunisia eases lockdown as zero cases registered in five days

  • For the fifth consecutive day no new cases were registered in the North African country which has declared 1,032 cases of coronavirus
  • Tunisia started easing strict confinement measures last week

TUNIS: Retail shops and supermarkets reopened Friday in Tunisia after the government announced zero coronavirus cases for the fifth consecutive day.
In a statement published overnight, the health ministry also said that 217 patients still carry the COVID-17 virus, three of whom are being treated in hospital.
But for the fifth consecutive day no new cases were registered in the North African country which has declared 1,032 cases of coronavirus, including 45 deaths, since March 2.
With infections slowing, retail stores, open-air markets and supermarkets have reopened, but authorities are urging citizens to stay vigilant and respect hygiene measures.
On Wednesday, President Kais Saied shortened an overnight curfew that has been in place since March 22.
Tunisia started easing strict confinement measures last week.


Kuwait’s new emir calls for national unity ahead of elections

Updated 49 min 18 sec ago

Kuwait’s new emir calls for national unity ahead of elections

KUWAIT: Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah called on Tuesday for national unity to meet challenges facing the Gulf state, in a speech to lawmakers ahead of elections on Dec. 5.
The parliamentary elections come at a time when the wealthy OPEC member is facing a liquidity crisis caused by low oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic against the backdrop of continued tensions between larger neighbors Saudi Arabia and Iran.
“National unity has proven to be our strongest weapon in facing challenges, dangers and crises,” said the emir, who assumed power last month on the death of the previous ruler.
Frequent clashes between the cabinet and parliament have led to successive government reshuffles and dissolutions of parliament, hindering investment and reform efforts. The outspoken assembly, the Gulf’s oldest legislature, can block bills and question ministers.
Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah, also addressing the opening of a supplementary legislative session, called for greater efforts to “diversify revenue sources and rationalize spending and consumption ... without detriment to citizens” in the cradle-to-grave welfare state.
He said the government was seeking more sustainable tools to finance the budget, in which public sector salaries and subsidies accounted for 71% of spending for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.
The nearly $140 billion economy is facing a yawning deficit of $46 billion this year. A priority will be overcoming legislative gridlock on a bill that would allow Kuwait to tap international debt markets.
Lawmakers opposed to the debt law have called for clarity on government plans to reduce reliance on oil exports, which accounted for 89% of revenues in the last fiscal year.
The emir is expected to maintain oil and investment policy and a balanced foreign policy that strove for Arab unity.
In his speech, the premier said Kuwait would continue mediation efforts to end a Gulf dispute that has seen Saudi Arabia and its allies boycott Qatar since mid-2017. He reiterated his country’s support for Palestinians’ rights.