December 01 – 06, 2020 | Algeria Press Review

| ,

Photo: John S. on Flickr

December 06, 2020

The other impact of the pandemic crisis COVID-19: ILO report warns of strong pressure on wages

Another negative impact of COVID-19 has been identified in a new report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) on wages.

While the gap between wage growth and productivity growth was already wide before the health crisis, the gap has widened significantly, leading to a decline in incomes. Many companies have reduced employee wages due to lack of activity and sometimes even downsized their workforces.

“The economic and labour market crisis caused by the COVID-19 has affected vulnerable groups, threatening to deepen inequalities and push many families into poverty,” the ILO report says, noting that adequate minimum wages set by governments can play an important role in maintaining a decent level of income.

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

Sonatrach grants 800 million dinars in donations since March

The National Hydrocarbons Company, Sonatrach, has granted nearly 800 million dinars in donations for the fight against the spread of COVID-19 in Algeria, since the beginning of the pandemic last March, the public group was told Sunday.

These donations have been granted to various health infrastructures throughout the country, notably in the form of medical equipment for the Pasteur Institute of Algeria, the Central Pharmacy of Hospitals (PCH) and hospitals.

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

COVID-19 in Algeria: Rush among herbalists

In this epidemiological period, customers are tearing up plants, condiments, oils and honeys to strengthen their immune defences in the hope of forming a strong shield against this cursed virus which is causing a lot of ink and tears to flow.

In infusion, decoction, powder, oil… medicinal plants have never been so popular. Faced with the growth in demand for these herbal teas and other spices, herbalists immediately revised their prices upwards. For example, cloves are currently selling for 3500 da per kilo against 1500 da just before the pandemic.

[…] Phytotherapy against coronavirus is ok, but aren’t there any precautions to be taken into consideration? We put the question to Saida Younsi, a general practitioner: “Of course, medicinal plants are known to be effective against all kinds of infections, but they should not be used just anyhow, especially in people suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes or hypertension. If they are already receiving medical treatment, consuming decoctions of cloves, cinnamon or ginger, for example, can lead to an overdose that can be harmful to their health. Hence, the need to always seek advice from your doctor before consuming certain plants or condiments when suffering from a pathology”.

Boosting immunity to block the coronavirus is on everyone’s mind. Traditional medicine, or phytotherapy, has made a considerable leap forward in recent months. Never before have herbalist shops been so busy. A sign of the times: new addresses have sprouted up like mushrooms, the prices of plants have soared and vendors have re-branded themselves as phytotherapists, from one day to the next. What will be left of all this race for natural remedies when the nasty virus returns home?

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

COVID-19: vaccines and questions

To combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the WHO has set up a mechanism to facilitate access to vaccines against COVID-19, this mechanism is called COVAX, it is coordinated by the Gavi Alliance. Different countries who have joined this mechanism, are either able to produce their own vaccines, such as Great Britain or China, or are ble to finance the purchase of vaccines, or unable to acquire the vaccine. Nearly 20 vaccines have now been proposed to the WHO for approval and recommendation for the Gavi alliance countries.

Algeria’s policy has evolved in the field of vaccination against COVID-19. Initially going at it alone, Algeria stated that it wanted to acquire the vaccine as soon as possible after it was put on the market and at any price. Faced with the increasing number of questions about the effectiveness, safety, duration of immunization, etc. which are raised by these new vaccines, this hasty approach has slowed down.

Algeria has joined a few middle-income African countries outside Gavi, bringing together Botswana, Cape Verde, Eswatini, Gabon, Mauritius, Namibia, São Tomé and Príncipe and the Seychelles in a kind of purchasing group to obtain vaccines at more advantageous prices. This approach does not seem to have satisfied the health officials who eventually joined COVAX on 30 October 2020, making Algeria the 188th country to join Gavi.

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

Acquisition of the vaccine against COVID-19: Algeria refines its strategy

In the document preparing the immunisation strategy, it is emphasised that “the acquisition of the vaccine will be the result of political discussions at a very high level to enable Algeria to benefit as a priority from the supply of vaccines at the end of the research work”.

“To date, no pre-orders or orders have been made,” the Minister of Health said. “The fact of being registered on the COVAX platform, Algeria will benefit from a significant quantity of doses, whatever the vaccine selected,” he reassured, excluding vaccines whose storage conditions require equipment and material at less than 70 degrees Celsius.

For example, the Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna vaccines appear to be excluded from the list drawn up by Algerian experts, while Pfizer/BioNtech’s BNT 162 B2 vaccine is the first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved in the UK.

This leaves, for Algeria, the Chinese companies with two advances in research, namely Sinopharm and Sinovac, which plan to increase the currently limited production capacity to around 400 million doses per year by the end of 2020. “Sinovac plans 100 million, Sinopharm 200 million and the Beijing Biological Products Institute 100 million”, it was announced.

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

December 05, 2020

COVID-19: Towards a significant drop in the price of PCR and antigenic tests

The Minister of Pharmaceutical Industry, Abderrahmane Lotfi Djamel Benbahmad, has assured that PCR and antigenic tests, for the screening of COVID-19, will soon be available at reasonable prices thanks to their local production.

PCR tests were imported at the beginning (of the pandemic) for US$25 (per test), before this price was reduced to US$12 with the help of the National People’s Army (NPA). Today, with the regulation certificates, we import them for between 5 and 7 dollars. They will be manufactured locally for the equivalent of 2.5 dollars. This gives us a glimpse of better accessibility to these tests by the population,” he told the APS.

The minister recalled that some laboratories have recently lowered the price of PCRs to 9000 dinars. Knowing that these tests are generally available at prices ranging from 12,000 DA to 17,000 DA.

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

New measures to lighten the burden on hospitals

On the sidelines of a visit he made today to the Mustapha Bacha hospital in Algiers, Health Minister Abderrahmane Benbouzid said that several community health centres will be equipped to alleviate overload in major hospitals, especially in the capital.

According to him, the wali of Algiers has already allocated a budget for this purpose, with the aim of taking care of patients with COVID-19 locally.

The local health centres will be provided with the necessary equipment and services to take care of patients, like the major hospitals, according to Benbouzid.

The first health sector manager stressed that 15 emergency units will be set up at the level of local health centres in Paris to relieve the pressure on the COVID-19 services at the Mustapha Bacha hospital.

This also intervenes to enable university hospital centres such as the Mustapha hospital and the Beni Messous hospital to carry out major specialist operations and research. This project, continues the minister, has been launched since the beginning of this year, but the spread of the coronavirus epidemic has delayed the operation.

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

These are the traders benefitting by COVID-19 aid

In an instruction addressed to the trade directors, the Ministry of Trade has stated that it wishes to take over the compensation files of companies and businesses affected by the current health situation. It should be remembered that the latter have not carried out their commercial activity due to the last confinement.

According to statements by the Ministry of Commerce, the companies concerned by the financial compensation are: fêtes  halls, sports and gaming halls, Internet cafes, Hammams and hairdressing salons.

As far as retail traders are concerned, only bakeries, clothing and footwear, household appliances and textile shops are concerned by the financial compensation, according to the Arabic-speaking daily El Bilad. 

The Ministry of Commerce has indicated that the granting of a financial subsidy is subject to conditions of income and business situation during the months of March, April, May and June of the year 2020. It added that this financial assistance will be allocated to traders who have suspended their activity as part of the sanitary measures put in place by the State during the period of containment related to the sanitary crisis.

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

December 03, 2020

“Algeria can produce the vaccine against COVID-19”, Benbahmed says

While the COVID-19-related pandemic has persisted for several months, many countries have been trying to conquer the precious Coronavirus vaccine. And it is in this same context that the Minister of the Pharmaceutical Industry spoke. At a press conference held today, December 03, Mr. Lotfi Benbahmed is reported to have said that Algeria has all the means to compete with other countries in developing the product that everyone is waiting for, the vaccine against COVID-19. This is in any case what the Arabic-speaking daily Ennahar reports.

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

December 02, 2020

COVID-19: In Algeria, unemployment figures are in a panic

Speaking on Tuesday, December 01 on a local radio, Mohamed Cherif Belmihoub, Minister Delegate to the Prime Minister in charge of Foresight said that unemployment has emerged victorious from the health crisis in Algeria. Even if the figures are not official, he stressed, the losses are estimated at a minimum of 500,000 jobs in various sectors. “Obviously, the causes are linked to the containment which has dealt a heavy blow to the economic activity of the country,” explained the official, adding that “the sectors most affected are those of tourism, trade and Construction, Public Works and Hydraulics (BTPH)”. The latter are hard hit by the crisis which has had a negative impact on mass unemployment.

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

December 01, 2020

Air Algérie flights: The strategy to avoid COVID-19 contamination

Amine Andaloussi, head of communications for the national airline, was the guest of the national news channel Ennahar TV. He took advantage of his appearance on television to unveil the strategy put in place by Air Algerie, with a view to avoiding as much as possible the contamination with COVID-19 during flights. […] Mr. Andaloussi would have added that the national airline company had the ambition to adopt a strict sanitary protocol. He cited in particular the physical distance, the mandatory wearing of protective masks in addition to regular cleaning and disinfection of air transport devices carried out by the company Air Algérie.

As a reminder, Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad expressed himself yesterday, November 30, through an official statement. He announced the resumption of repatriation flights from next Sunday. And it is in this same wake that the head of communication of Air Algeria spoke. He confirmed the Prime Minister’s words by declaring that: “The continuation of special flights will be made soon in order to repatriate citizens who wanted to return to the country for an emergency or an exception,” the Arabic-speaking daily reports.

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

COVID-19: A bonus to compensate affected education sector staff

The National Commission of Social Works of Education Workers (CNOSTE) has taken the measure to introduce bonuses and allowances for the benefit of staff in the sector infected with COVID-19 in order to help reduce the health care bill, says the President of CNOSTE, Mustapha Benouis.

It has been decided to grant aid to the staff of the education sector at the national level for cases where the state of health is deemed critical, which is part of solidarity with civil servants in this exceptional situation through the introduction of a risk premium, or COVID-19 premium, estimated at DA 50,000 for teachers and civil servants who tested positive,” said APS M. “The decision was taken to grant aid to the staff of the education sector at the national level for cases where the state of health is deemed critical, which is part of solidarity with civil servants in this exceptional situation through the introduction of a risk premium, or COVID-19 premium, estimated at DA 50,000 for teachers and civil servants who tested positive,” said APS M. Benouis told APS.

According to the same official, the person concerned must contact CNOSTE or the wilaya commissions for the submission of his medical file before proceeding to the payment of this premium into his account.   

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

COVID-19: Warning against the “anarchic” consumption of anticoagulants in Algiers

Health specialists have warned against the “anarchic” consumption of anticoagulants that are part of the COVID-19 therapeutic protocol and other diseases, especially as many citizens buy this product in pharmacies without a medical prescription.

In this sense, Pr Amine Salmi, head of the anaesthesia-intensive care department at Mustapha Pasha University Hospital, who stressed that anticoagulants must be used wisely, recommends avoiding buying them without a prescription, warning pharmacists to sell them without a prescription because of their risks.

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

COVID- 19: Schools authorized to use the assets arrested for the acquisition of means of protection

The Ministry of National Education has authorized educational institutions to use, exceptionally, the assets stopped on December 31, 2019 for the acquisition of means of prevention of coronavirus, the ministry said Tuesday in a statement.

“After having approved the balance sheet of assets in off-budget accounts at the level of educational institutions and in application of the instruction of the sector minister, the institutions are authorised to use, exceptionally, the assets as at 31 December 2019, resulting from budgetary allocations for the acquisition of means of preventing the COVID-19 pandemic,” the same source specifies.

For schools that have recorded assets in off-budget accounts, these assets must be paid into the accounts of the secondary schools where screening and monitoring units are located. The heads of the schools must take charge of the acquisition operation in strict compliance with the regulations in force.

Such an approach “is part of the efforts made by the Ministry of National Education to respond to the exceptional health situation that the country is going through, and gives concrete expression to the coronavirus prevention measures enacted by the public authorities, in application of the health protocol put in place for the benefit of the national education sector,” the statement concluded.

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

Three years in prison required against Karim Tabbou, a Hirak figure

The Algerian prosecutor’s office on Monday requested a heavy three-year prison sentence against political opponent Karim Tabbou, a central figure in the anti-regime protest movement that broke out in February 2019. The verdict will be handed down on 7 December, announced one of his lawyers.

Leader of a small, unregistered opposition party, the Democratic and Social Union (UDS), Karim Tabbou is one of the best-known, if not the most popular face of Hirak. His portrait was regularly raised during the weekly demonstrations against power in Algeria until their suspension last March because of the health crisis linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The prosecutor asked for three years in prison and a fine of 100,000 dinars (650 euros) against the opponent, said Zoubida Assoul on his Facebook page.

In another case, Karim Tabbou was sentenced on appeal on 24 March to one year in prison for “undermining the integrity of the national territory”, because of a video posted on his party’s Facebook page in which he criticised the army’s intrusion into political affairs.

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