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Tunisia orders lockdown, postpones loan repayments for poor

March 20, 2020 at 9:25 pm

A view of empty Avenue Habib Bourguiba after a daily curfew as part of precautions against coronavirus (COVID-19) in Tunis, Tunisia on 19 March, 2020 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]

Tunisia’s president on Friday ordered a general lockdown, limiting citizens’ free movement in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, reports Reuters.

The North African country, which has already shut down cafes, restaurants, and mosques, has so far reported 54 confirmed cases of coronavirus and one death.

Tunisian banks will postpone the repayment of loans by poorer citizens by six months to help alleviate the social and economic impact of the crisis, banking sources said.

“There is no need for fear or panic, the state will be with you,” President Kais Saied said in a televised broadcast.

READ: Tunisia imposes 12-hour daily curfew to counter coronavirus

“I call on Tunisians to stay at home and to go out only to meet the most urgent needs… The state will provide food and vital services such as health and security.”

Tunisia now expects an economic recession, prompting the central bank on Tuesday to cut its key interest rate by 100 basis points.

Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh has said the government had reduced its growth forecast this year to 1% from 2.7%. The government is expected to announce soon an aid package for struggling companies and individuals. (