Tunisia is setting up a free helpline to support families after seeing a spike in domestic abuse cases linked to a lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus, AFP reports.
Asma Shiri Laabidi, the minister in charge of women's affairs, said there had been a five-fold rise in the number of domestic abuse cases reported in recent days compared with the same period last year.
More than 40 cases involving abused women were recorded between 23 March and 29 March, compared to just seven during the same week in 2019, the minister said.
Most were aged between 30-40 and living in remote areas of the country, she said, adding that the abuse involved verbal or physical aggression and that two women had to be hospitalised.
"Confinement has significant consequences for families. Tensions have risen and the risk of women being attacked is much higher," Laabidi said.
From Monday, the toll-free number 1809 will go into service in the North African country and will be run by 11 volunteer psychologists, she said.
Originally scheduled to end on 4 April, the lockdown has been extended for a further 15 days as the country tries to stem the spread of the virus, which has claimed at least 14 lives.
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EU countries agreed Friday to boost help for Africa in its coronavirus fight, AFP reports.
During talks held by video link, foreign ministers from the 27 EU countries approved a plan to step up assistance, with details to be worked out by development ministers next week.
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AFP has also reported that the UK on Friday recorded 684 new Covid-19 deaths, bringing the overall tally to 3 605. There are 38 168 who have tested positive in the UK. Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is still self-isolating after testing positive.
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