Tunisia Health Minister Sacked As Covid Spirals

Tunisia's Health Minister Faouzi Mehdi has been sacked as the country struggles to cope with surging numbers of coronavirus cases.

He faced criticism for organizing the opening of vaccination stations to all Tunisians aged 18 over the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

Correspondents say tens of thousands flocked to them on Tuesday, but the jabs quickly ran out, leading to stampedes and some violence.

Coronavirus has put the medical system in the North Africa nation under severe pressure, and there have been oxygen shortages at hospitals in several provinces.

Earlier this month a health ministry spokesman described the situation as "catastrophic".

A health ministry adviser and head of the Palais des Congrès vaccination centre in Tunis, Rafla Tej Dellagi, said the system was reaching a breaking point.

"I don't think we've reached the peak and the care system is in a critical state: not only are we at about 200 deaths per day... but also patients care services, hospitalizations, oxygen beds are currently at their maximum," she said.

Tunisia needed to seriously ramp up its vaccination programme in order to help stem the spread of the virus, she said.