Tensions have been mounting at a Tunisian hospital that’s struggling with staff shortages amid a surge of COVID-19 infections there.
One woman, whose mother was moved from a general bed to a wheelchair in the intensive care unit at a hospital in the northern town of Kairouan, was distraught.
“They put my mother in a wheelchair, like a dog, and left,” said Sana Kraiem. “They told me they can’t free up a bed occupied by a dead person and asked me to go.”
Over the past month, coronavirus numbers in Tunisia have reached their highest daily levels since the beginning of the pandemic, with Kairouan and three other regions particularly hard hit.
Vaccination rates remain low, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
A temporary hospital has been set up on the outskirts of the town and the army has set up a military care facility with beds, monitoring equipment and ventilators.
But a health worker who works with coronavirus patients at Ibn Jazzar Hospital said the main problem was a lack of manpower.
“We need labour more than we need new equipment,” said Zahra Hedwej. “It’s very difficult to find volunteers (to work with COVID-19 patients) because some don’t know the level of their own physical immunity.”
Tunisia has reported Africa’s highest coronavirus death toll per capita, and currently has one of the continent’s highest infection rates.
It has registered almost 409,000 confirmed cases and over 14,700 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.