- Tunisian Trade Minister Mohamed Msilini said that a cargo ship carrying vital supplies was pirated at sea.
- The shipment contained an alcohol-based ingredient used to manufacture sanitisers, but it never made it to Tunisia, according to the minister.
A cargo ship carrying vital supplies of rubbing alcohol intended for Tunisia was pirated at sea, reports Albawaba.
In a segment broadcast on Tunisian TV Channel Elhiwar Ettounsi Monday, Msilini said a ship heading to the country with the precious cargo “was stolen.” The cargo contained an alcohol-based ingredient used to manufacture sanitisers, but it never made it to Tunisia, according to the minister.
His comments came in response to a series of questions on initiatives aimed at alleviating the country’s shortage of sanitising products during the current coronavirus outbreak.
Czech scenario all over again
“What happened to this shipment is similar to the Czechs stealing a cargo of medical face masks that China sent to Italy to help combat the coronavirus,” explained Mohamed Msilini in televised comments.
“Today, all European countries are hysterical, and all of them are stealing equipment for fear of this virus,” he added.
- On 14th March, China announced its intention to send sterile and antiseptic masks and other materials to reinforce the efforts taken by Tunisia to curb the spread of the pandemic.
- On 23rd March, the government in Tunis announced the deployment of army units across the country to support security efforts during the nationwide quarantine, which was imposed on Sunday.
The Czech incident was later reported by Reuters to be a “mix-up” by Czech customs. According to the report, the central European republic promised to send a replacement shipment to Italy.
Cargo ship redirected
In a follow-up interview Tuesday with Tunisian radio station Shems FM, Msilini denied news circulated on Tunisian social media alleging the ship had been seized by Italy.
“I did not say that Italy seized the ship [containing] medical alcohol … I said it was redirected and that it’s a cargo ship,” Msilini said, “I have nothing to add.”
According to the Ministry of Health, there are at least 89 virus cases in Tunisia. As of Tuesday morning, the virus had infected more than 382,000 people worldwide, nearly 16,600 of whom have died, while 102,000 have recovered.
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