France launches supply bridge to help Tunisia cope with virus – .

France launches supply bridge to help Tunisia cope with virus – .

PARIS – France has established a “sea bridge” to provide COVID-19 vaccines and medical oxygen to Tunisia, which is in the midst of one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in Africa.

In the past five days, France has transported 1.1 million doses of vaccines to the North African country, French Tourism Minister Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne told France-Info radio. The French navy dispatched three huge containers of much needed oxygen on Thursday, the minister tweeted.

Of the vaccines, 800,000 doses came from French stocks, but Paris also uses the COVAX mechanism, the UN-backed program to deliver vaccines to poorer countries, Lemoyne said. He did not specify what type of vaccines were sent.

Maritime expeditions are expected to continue until mid-August, bringing equipment, masks and other materials needed to help Tunisia cope with a sharp rise in infections and hospitalizations.

Other countries in Europe and elsewhere are mobilizing to help Tunisia emerge from its health crisis.

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Tunisia has reported more per capita deaths in the pandemic than any other African country and among the highest per capita daily death rates in the world in recent weeks. The country, which has a population of less than 12 million, has recorded a total of more than 18,000 deaths linked to the virus, according to the Ministry of Health.

Tunisian President Kais Saied on Wednesday ordered the military to take over the management of the national response to the pandemic. Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi last week ordered governors in nine regions to requisition private hospitals for COVID-19 patients when public hospitals run out of oxygen, the official TAP news agency reported.

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