Several countries on Friday promised to help Tunisia fight COVID-19 as the north African country recorded its highest daily death toll since the pandemic began, putting its health care system under severe stress and depleting oxygen supplies.
Tunisian President Kais Saied said in a statement that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman had pledged to send COVID-19 vaccines and whatever medical equipment Tunisia needed.
Libya also pledged to send medical aid, the Libyan Presidential Council said in a separate statement.
Officials and local media said that Kuwait, Turkey and Algeria had also promised to help.
Qatar earlier sent a military plane with a field hospital on board, including 200 medical personnel and 100 respirators.
After successfully containing the virus in a first wave last year, Tunisia is now grappling with a rise in infections.
It imposed a lockdown in some cities starting last week, but rejected a full national lockdown over concerns about effects on the economy.
Tunisia on Friday recorded 189 deaths, the highest daily toll since the pandemic began last year.
It reported 8,500 new cases.
“We are in a catastrophic situation... The health system has collapsed, we can only find a bed in hospitals with great difficulty,” Tunisian Ministry of Public Health spokeswoman Nisaf Ben Alaya said.
“We are struggling to provide oxygen... Doctors are suffering from unprecedented fatigue,” she said. “The boat is sinking.”
The total number of COVID-19 cases in Tunisia has climbed to about 480,000, with more than 16,000 deaths.
Vaccinations lag far behind other countries. So far, only 715,000 people have received two doses out of a total of 11.6 million residents.
Saied’s office last week said that the US has pledged to donate 500,000 vaccine doses.
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