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Tunisia resumes Int'l Festival of Carthage amid COVID-19 resurgence

Artists perform at the opening ceremony of the 56th International Festival of Carthage in Tunis, Tunisia on July 14, 2022. (Photo by Adel Ezzine/Xinhua)

TUNIS, July 16 (Xinhua) -- The 56th International Festival of Carthage (FIC) has come back to Tunisia after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and when a new wave of infections is striking across the country.

The FIC has been a well-known musical event held in Tunisia since 1964. It takes place in July and August every year, with all shows performed in the Roman theatre of Carthage, a restored ancient theatre located on the outskirts of the capital.

A selection of 33 shows is scheduled from July 14 to Aug. 20, and Tunisia will take the lion's share with 15 shows, in addition to 18 shows from Lebanon, South Korea, Switzerland, and many other countries, FIC artistic director Kamel Ferjani said at a press conference held at the Antonine Baths on the site of Carthage.

Thursday's opening show saw the auditorium full of audiences but almost none of them wore a face mask.

The opening ceremony of the 56th International Festival of Carthage kicks off in Tunis, Tunisia on July 14, 2022. (Photo by Adel Ezzine/Xinhua)

Tunisia is struggling to bring tourists back, but with the reopening of borders and the resumption of various festivals, the health situation in the country is worrying.

In the week from July 4 to 10, Tunisia reported 21,872 infections and 56 fatalities, raising the total tally of cases to 1,087,030 and the death toll to 28,823 in the North African country, the Tunisian Health Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the test positivity rate in Tunisia, or the percentage of tests producing a positive result, has risen to 52 percent, said the statement.

The weekly COVID-19 cases in northern Africa have been on the rise for eight consecutive weeks, mainly from Morocco and Tunisia, WHO Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti said in an online press conference on Thursday.

In the midst of a prolonged economic crisis, Tunisia is reluctant to take restrictive measures to scare away foreign tourists.

Visitors from Algeria are expected to flock to Tunisia following a decision announced on July 5 by the presidents of the two countries to reopen their borders after two years of closure.

The Tunisian authorities expected more than one million visitors from Algeria this summer. ■