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SFAX, Tunisia (AP) When Dr Mohamed Salah Siala started working on the COVID-19 frontline in January at a Tunisian hospital, he never imagined harnessing his musical skills in the fight against the virus.

Yet when the 25-year-old decided to take out his violin one day at the Hedi Chaker hospital in the city of Sfax and play, he was praised for boosting the morale of people with the virus who remained in isolation and had need a smile.

The reaction of the patients was immediate with smiles, applause and some with raised fists celebrating the impromptu concert. Some were surprised to find it was the doctor on the violin.

Playing music here helps patients feel happy and forget about pain, said patient Rachid Arous, who is recovering from COVID-19. It is a wonderful thing.

During her free time away from medical duties, Siala enthusiastically plays the violin and is also a member of a group called the Pepper Band. “

My goal is to use music to help treat corona (virus) patients who are in poor psychological condition, suffering from the loneliness that is their number one enemy, Siala told The Associated Press on Saturday.

Siala now plays regularly in the hospital, when he has time.

By walking through the halls with his violin, Sialas’ music helps not only patients but also health workers. They have been under pressure in recent months due to the increase in the number of hospitalizations linked to the virus which soared at the start of the year.

However, it is not just the violin to bring hope to the country of North Africa. Tunisia shows signs of decline of the virus. In recent days, it has seen one of the lowest rates of new infections in several weeks. According to the Ministry of Health, 725 new positive cases were detected Thursday in a population of nearly 12 million inhabitants against a peak of more than 4,100 new cases in mid-January. Likewise, the death toll has fallen to 35, from an average of 70 per day and the peak of 103 deaths a month ago.

With the exception of intensive care beds, which are still full, oxygen beds are not as crowded as they used to be, as many patients are cared for at home. Currently, 1,264 Tunisians are hospitalized, including 287 in intensive care and 111 on ventilators.

The country is also expected to receive its first shipments of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines this month. These are part of a larger agreement with the COVAX Global Vaccination Program for Developing Countries and the African CDC that Tunisia hopes to deliver up to 7 million doses of vaccine in the coming months.

In the meantime, patients can count on Siala to bring hope and resilience with the blows of her bow.

He plays to entertain us a little bit almost every day. I pray to God to protect him, and I wish you all that God protect you from this disease, said Brika Sdiri while applauding and smiling while listening to the music. Hope to get out of this place healthy, that’s what I want. “

Bouazza Ben Bouazza contributed to this report from Tunis.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.



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