Tunisians celebrate holiday amid Covid-19 travel restrictions, hospitalizations

Families in Tunisia gather for the start of Eid al-Adha, the “Feast of the Sacrifice”, as Covid-19 measures prevent distant relatives from gathering and overburdened hospitals leave medical staff worried about what the future holds. Claire Paccalin, Mohamed Farhat and Karim Yahiaoui of Jowharreport.

A sheep market in Ariana in the Tunis region is usually busier on the eve of Eid al-Adha, the Islamic “Feast of the Sacrifice”, but Covid-19 lockdown measures banning large gatherings will mean that celebrations will be smaller this year.

Yet a man is sharpening knives on a flock of sheep for sale, while buyers look for cooking pots for the festivities.

“I usually visit my family, but this year we can’t travel to other regions of the country,” a shopper told FRANCE 24. “It feels like something is missing.”

“Eid doesn’t feel like Eid this time, because we see Tunisians dying, crammed into hospitals,” explains another shopper.

As celebrations take place around the world this week, the World Health Organization fears that family gatherings will lead to a sharp increase in Covid-19 cases.

A doctor at an Ariana public hospital operating at 300 percent capacity is urging people to exercise caution while celebrating.

Eid scares us. It’s a time when people come together, and that’s what causes the virus to spread,” said Dr. Rafik Boujdaria, the head of the emergency department, to FRANCE 24.

“The hospitals are full and there are not enough beds or oxygen.”

The lockdown measures in Tunisia have been in place for more than two weeks now and there are hopes they will soon ease the pressure on the healthcare system.

Click on the video player to view the full report of FRANCE 24.

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