Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: As of April 18, Tunisian authorities extend stay-at-home order until further notice due to COVID-19 activity. Further restrictions possible.

This alert affects Tunisia

This alert began 18 Apr 2020 15:07 GMT and is scheduled to expire 23 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Event: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite as of April 18
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions, heightened security

Summary
As of April 18, Tunisian authorities have extended an existing stay-at-home order until further notice to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Although the extension period has yet to be made clear, it will likely be in place through the month of Ramadan (April 23-May 23). The extension followed President Kais Saied's and Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh's meeting with the National Security Council. Saied ordered the military to deploy to the streets March 23 to enforce the stay-at-home order that initially entered into effect March 21. Authorities have also banned public gatherings of more than three people, except for individuals working on curbing the spread of COVID-19.

The stay-at-home order prohibits residents from leaving their homes but allows them freedom of movement 0600-1800 to perform essential tasks, such as purchasing groceries or medications and obtaining medical treatment. Critical services, such as banks, gas stations, and grocery stores, as well as government functions, including police and emergency services, will remain operational. Other commercial businesses, such as gyms, bars, and dine-in restaurants, remain closed. Additionally, authorities have established specialized quarantine centers throughout the country to isolate and treat those infected with COVID-19.

Tunisia closed its land, air, and sea borders until further notice March 16; the measure only affects passenger traffic and does not apply to ground or air freight transport. All private and public schools have also shut down.

Additional travel restrictions and business disruptions remain likely in the coming days.

Background and Analysis
Tunisia's travel restrictions and preventive measures are similar to actions other governments are taking globally in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all nonessential travel in the areas impacted by the measures. Confirm appointments. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by law enforcement officers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
World Health Organization: www.who.int