October 26 – November 1, 2020 | Algeria Press Review

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October 31, 2020

COVID-19 in Algeria: Do the official figures reflect reality?

Alarm signals about the health situation related to the COVID-19 epidemic in Algeria are multiplying from health professionals and public authorities.

But with a daily death toll of just over 300 cases and fewer deaths per day, does the situation warrant such alarm? Many people are asking themselves this question, but for the specialists, it is the reality on the ground that counts.

“The assessment (of daily contaminations) is based solely on the number of PCRs carried out. If the PCR is positive, the patient is declared positive (to COVID). On the other hand, in the field, it’s something else,” explains Prof. Abderrazak Bouamra, the head of the intensive care unit at Blida University Hospital, who points out that Algeria actually carries out few PCR tests. “In comparison with neighbouring countries, European countries for example, there is a very significant gap,” he observes.

Recently on ENTV, Dr. Fawzi Derrar, DG of the Pasteur Institute of Algeria (IPA), estimated the number of PCR tests carried out in Algeria since the beginning of the epidemic at 200,000 units.

“The IPA has tried to make an effort by multiplying the number of PCR screening centres. But with 200,000 tests carried out, the figure remains very low, despite the efforts made. The 200,000 tests is a figure that could be achieved in one day at the beginning of the epidemic by a country like Germany. Or a country like France, which carries out 100,000 tests/day (1.8 million PCR tests since the beginning of the epidemic, editor’s note). The gap is very large, but that doesn’t prevent us from saying that the IPA has made an effort,” notes Prof. Bouamra.

A finding that is not far from that of Prof. Rachid Belhadj, head of the forensic medicine department of Mustapha University Hospital (Algiers). “The issue of figures differs on the diagnosis. The official balance sheet takes into consideration the positive PCRs. But we treat patients based on radiological images, especially when it comes to lesions of up to 50%. That’s why the figures are different from those declared,” explains Prof. Belhadj.

“At Mustapha University Hospital, we give our patients the benefit of biological examinations, an ECG, a clinical examination, and also a CT scan. And then, we find ourselves in situations with lesions of -10% and a positive PCR. It happens that we also have asymptomatic people with positive serology and, indeed, when we examine them in a CT scan we find lesions at 10%. All this is not recorded by the Ministry of Health, which takes into account the PCRs sent by hospitals, which often arrive late,” explains Prof. Belhadj.

“We are living in a situation where everything is focused on COVID-19”

The head of the forensic medicine department of Mustapha University Hospital also reports a discrepancy in the number of deaths of COVID-19. “Yesterday, for example, there were 7 deaths nationwide. However, the day before yesterday at Mustapha University Hospital, I had seven VIDOC deaths. But as a forensic scientist, these people do not die from VIDOC. They die much more from the decompensation of their pathologies”, explains our interlocutor.

“We are in a situation where everything is focused on VIDOC-19. At Mustapha University Hospital, it has been said that chronic patients who are dangerously decompensating, such as cancer patients, diabetics, kidney failure patients, cardiopaths, and patients with respiratory pathologies, must also be treated. All it takes is decompensation and a small COVID infection for the patient to die,” he adds.

In other words, patients often die more from the complications of their chronic conditions than from COVID-19.

There is also a pressure on hospital beds in terms of the need for hospital beds. “In Blida, we are under pressure. In Blida, we are experiencing tension. And this is due to the increase in the number of people requiring hospitalisation,” confirms Prof. Bouamra.

But the hospital is not saturated, and there are still free beds, either in the intensive care unit or the COVID unit,” he says. “We’ve even reopened a few departments to be able to take care of the ever-increasing number of patients. That said, there is a need for hospitalisation,” he recalls.

The situation is almost identical at Mustapha University Hospital, where the intensive care unit is “full,” according to Prof. Belhadj. “We have 35 beds in intensive care and for the past week we have been full,” he says.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

Constitutional referendum: A special health protocol COVID-19

The National Independent Election Authority (ANIE) has drawn up a special health protocol for the referendum, on the draft amendment to the constitution, to prevent the risks of spreading the coronavirus epidemic and protect participating citizens and voters.

Among the adapted exceptional measures, access to the inside of the polling station is only allowed for two or three people at a time and a disinfection device will be provided, the provision of hydro-alcoholic solutions, the obligatory wearing of bibs, the doors of the polling stations will be open at 8 am and closed at 7 pm and the vote will only be held on one day, in accordance with article 32 of the organic law relating to the electoral regime. However, the opening date of the polls may be brought forward by 72 hours in remote areas and by 120 hours for the national community established abroad, to facilitate voting for the voters “exclusively” covered by these provisions, according to the same law.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

October 30, 2020

Increases contaminations : Professor Belhocine warns against hospital saturation

Professor Mohamed Belhocine, an epidemiologist and member of the scientific committee responsible for monitoring the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) in Algeria, warned that “hospitals are saturated because of the new wave of the virus”. “Like many other countries, our society probably thought the epidemic was behind us. However, I kept reminding people that as long as there is a new case, the virus is still circulating in the community. The virus is coming back in force, probably for many reasons,” he said.

In the same context, the epidemiologist sounded the alarm, saying that “hospital services risk being saturated, and they must not be saturated”, “even if we take all possible measures to meet the demand”.

To this end, he recalled that “society plays an individual and collective role in respecting barrier measures”.

For more information, please consult the following link.

Algeria: Falling oil prices and COVID-19 – Banks in crisis?

COVID-19 has provoked many crises in the world, but in Algeria more specifically; it is another crisis that is hitting the country, particularly that of the private banks that are in difficulty because of the fall in oil prices and the COVID-19 crisis in Algeria.

According to El Watan, banks have until the end of the year to comply with the regulation of 04 November 2018 according to which the level of capital of banks must be at a minimum of 20 billion dinars in Algeria and 6.5 billion dinars for financial institutions against 10 billion and 3.5 billion to the previous one.

Indeed, according to El Watan, a group of international experts from Bretton Woods financial institutions conducted a study in Algeria in late summer 2019 in which they assessed the Algerian financial system. The group met with the country’s economic and political authorities who assisted them in carrying out the study. They stressed that liquidity management is underdeveloped and that there is a lack of willingness to act.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

29 October, 2020

Does Algeria still need to tighten its belt?

The price of black gold showed a sharp decline yesterday. Yesterday, in the course of trade, they plunged below the 40 dollar mark. The barrel of North Sea Brent, the benchmark for Algerian oil, was at around 2:30 p.m. at $39.61, or less than $2 compared to the previous session. Should Algeria tighten its belt further? Should it expect to reduce its oil revenues? This is a possibility not to be ruled out if the current level of the barrel were to fall further.

“Algeria’s hydrocarbon export revenues, for the year 2020, are expected to reach 23.5 billion dollars, if the price of a barrel of crude oil remains around 40 dollars, while the same revenue for the year 2019 was around 34 billion dollars,” estimated Mohamed Arkab’s successor. …] The number of COVID-19 contaminations has been rising sharply for several days, which is not without economic consequences. The price of black gold is suffering, which does not help the business of the country, which cannot do without the support of high oil prices to succeed in its economic recovery plan.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

COVID-19 flare-up: The government is no longer ruling out total containment

Algeria has taken new measures on Thursday, October 29 to cope with the outbreak of cases of contamination with the new coronavirus COVID-19, with the reinstatement of partial containment in 9 wilayas.

The wilayas concerned are Batna, Bejaia, Blida, Tlemcen, Tizi-Ouzou, Algiers, Jijel, Setif, Annaba, Constantine and Oran. The night curfew is valid from 23:00 to 05:00 in the morning. Twenty wilayas are now concerned by the partial confinement. The government which announced these measures does not rule out the recourse to total confinement again, in a context marked by the increase in COVID-19 contaminations.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

The distress of non-COVID patients

“We were dismayed to learn that we have to leave the hospital on Wednesday (October 28th, editor’s note) and suspend our medical care because the hospital is once again dedicated to COVID-19 patients, without taking into consideration our distressing situation.”

It is in these terms that a group of patients, hospitalised at the EPH of Ben Aknoun, transmitted their cry of distress to the Minister of Health, by means of an open letter, a copy of which Liberté holds.

“Is it conceivable to deprive people suffering from bone fractures, paralysis and other orthopaedic problems of care in order to reserve their beds for COVID patients? “they continued, imploring the minister to find solutions so that they are not “chased out of the hospital”.

“We have not interrupted specialist consultations and hospitalisations so as not to have waiting lists,” said Professor Samia Chemali, head of internal medicine at the EHS in Rouiba.

“The limited number of places forces us not to accept to hospitalise patients who are not residents of the East Algiers region,” she says. The hospital centres have certainly preserved the emergency services, while reducing the flow of admissions. Non-urgent surgical operations are systematically postponed by a few weeks.

According to many health practitioners and patients’ associations, it would have been simpler to set up a field hospital or to dedicate a hospital structure as a whole and in each town to serious forms of coronavirus infections instead of swarming them to all the health centres. All the more so as it will be laborious to catch up, in the long term, with the different levels of medical and surgical procedures that have been deprogrammed.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

October 27, 2020

Algerian striker Hillel Soudani tests positive for coronavirus

The olympiakos club announced Friday that Algerian striker hilel soudani has tested positive for coronavirus. the 2019 african champion is asymptomatic but has been mourned in isolation.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

26 October, 2020

COVID-19 in Algeria: Is the increase in contamination worrying?

Fawzi Derrar, Director General of the Pasteur Institute of Algeria was invited yesterday, 25 October 2020 on Channel 3 to talk about the general conditions that are favouring the transmission of the COVID-19 virus in Algeria. According to Derrar, there are certain factors to be taken into consideration to explain the rise in the global curve that we are currently seeing. Indeed, the director explains that the professional and school recovery as well as the drop in temperatures are to be taken into consideration.

With regard to the second wave, the director explains that we have not returned to the April curve but that we are likely to reach it. He analyses the situation by indicating that the epidemiological data are not the same everywhere and that each continent has its own variables. …] The DG warns that maximum vaccination will be required before December, which means the arrival of the flu epidemic, and reveals that at present the flu vaccines are at the Pasteur Institute and are being officially prepared for the start of the campaign. The campaign will start after November 3 with 1.8 million 800 thousand doses, and an agreement has been made with the partner for additional doses in December depending on the situation.

As for the coronavirus vaccine, Fawzi Derrar tells Channel 3 editors that it is expected that mass vaccination will take place approximately in the spring of 2021, if the vaccine is available at the beginning of the year.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

Influenza vaccination in Algeria: What you need to know

The national vaccination campaign against seasonal flu will start on November 3 in Algeria. Everything seems ready for the smooth running of this campaign, which is taking place this year in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic.

The first batches of the 1.8 million doses of flu vaccine ordered by Algeria are already available in the premises of the Pasteur Institute of Algeria (IPA), announced Sunday, October 25, Dr. Fawzi Derrar, DG of the IPA.

“We have currently ordered 1.8 million doses of which the first batches are already available. We have agreed with our partner to move towards additional doses in December depending on the situation and consumption. We are prepared accordingly,” confirmed Dr Derrar on Channel III radio.

This is pending the official start of the vaccination campaign scheduled for November 3, as announced Friday by the Minister of Health, Professor Abderrahmane Benbouzid.

“The vaccine is available. We will start the vaccination campaign on November 3,” the minister said Friday evening in a statement on public television. Prof. Benbouzid said that a batch of vaccines will be dedicated in priority to hospitals.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

COVID-19: The government deplores a “slackening” of the population

Algerian Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad deplored on Sunday evening the “slackening” of the population in the respect of prevention measures against the new coronavirus, in the face of a clear resurgence of daily infections.

“I note with regret a certain laxity in the observation of preventive measures against COVID-19 including social distancing, the mandatory wearing of masks and the use of hydroalcoholic gels,” Djerad said in a statement quoted on television.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.