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Tunisians observe holiday amid Covid-19 travel curbs, hospitalizations

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Families in Tunisia are gathering for the start of Eid al-Adha, the “Feast of the Sacrifice”, as Covid-19 lockdown measures prevent faraway relative from gathering and overburdened hospitals lead medical staff to worry about what’s next. FRANCE 24’s Claire Paccalin, Mohamed Farhat and Karim Yahiaoui report.

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

Still, one man is sharpening knives near a flock of sheep for sale, while buyers look for cooking pots for the festivities.

“Usually I visit my family, but this year, we can’t travel to other regions in the country,” one shopper told FRANCE 24. “It feels like something’s missing.”

“Eid isn’t feel like Eid this time, because we’re seeing Tunisians dying, crowded into hospitals,” another shopper explained.

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

A doctor at a public hospital in Ariana that is operating at 300 percent capacity is urging people to be careful as they celebrate.

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

“The hospitals are full and there aren’t enough beds or oxygen.”

Lockdown measures in Tunisia have been in place for more than two weeks now, and there is hope they will soon ease pressure on the healthcare system.

Click on the video player to watch the full FRANCE 24 report.

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