Tunisia suspends northern Italy ferry services over coronavirus

Tunisian Health Minister Abdellatif el-Mekki speaks at a news conference in Tunis, Tunisia.

Tunisia will suspend passenger ferry services to northern Italy and take other measures in response to the , Health Minister Abdelatifel-Mekki said on Wednesday.

Tunisia confirmed its first case of the coronavirus on Monday, a Tunisian national who had recently arrived from Italy by sea.

In another preventive measure, flights from northern Italy will use a separate terminal at Tunis airport to keep passengers apart before a screening process.

In addition, foreign football fans will be banned from attending games with local clubs, Makki told a news conference.

Two Tunisian teams are scheduled to play against clubs from Morocco and Egypt in the coming days.

Tunisia’s neighbour Algeria has registered several cases of the coronavirus, as have Morocco and Egypt.

The only North African country so far without a registered case is Libya.

The coronavirus epidemic could cost African airlines tens of millions of dollars in revenue this year, a global industry body has said, in a potentially devastating hit to often struggling airlines that count on lucrative Chinese routes to fund their expansion.

Airlines around the world have suspended or modified flights amid the outbreak, which began in mainland China at the end of last year and has now spread to more than 60 countries worldwide.

The global cost to the aviation industry is projected to be $29 billion this year, the International Air Transport Association(IATA) has said and at a conference in Addis Ababa on Wednesday, the organization’s special envoy to Africa said African airlines face a hit of as much as $40 million.

The IATA had already forecast, before the outbreak, that African airlines would make a loss of around $200 million this year.

Tewolde GebreMariam, chief executive of the continent’s biggest carrier Ethiopia Airlines, said the company had seen air travel demand decline by 20%.

His airline has faced criticism online for not canceling flights to China as Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda have done.

On Tuesday, direct flights from two cities in northern Italy – the location of the biggest cluster of coronavirus cases in Europe.