December 29, 2020 – January 04, 2021 | Algeria Press Review

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January 04, 2021

Russian Covid vaccine: “It’s a good choice”.

Algeria has finally opted for the Russian vaccine COVID-19 to begin its vaccination campaign this January. The announcement of the choice of Sputnik V was made Wednesday, December 30 by the government, the day after the return to Algeria of President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, after two months spent in Germany for treatment.

On December 20, the head of state had asked the government to accelerate the process of selecting the vaccine against COVID-19 to launch the vaccination campaign in January, while the executive did not seem particularly eager to acquire the vaccine.

So far, the government has not justified its choice and has said nothing about the vaccine, which is controversial in the West, but experts have spoken out.

Professor Noureddine Zitouni, an expert in respiratory diseases, said Algeria had made the “right choice” by opting for the vaccine against the Covid-19 coronavirus disease called Sputnik V.

“It’s a good choice”

“It is a good choice because it is a vaccine that keeps in the same way as other vaccines that Algeria is used to use,” said Professor Zidouni in an interview with TSA, Monday, January 4.

The expert in respiratory diseases also considers that the Sputnik V vaccine will be able to “join the usual processes of conservation, storage, distribution and performance of the vaccine act”.

However, Prof. Zidouni calls for caution despite the possibility that the vaccine could be deployed in Algeria, recommending that efforts and barrier measures contributing to contain the epidemic be maintained.

“We will cry victory when the epidemic is behind us. We are at a crossroads and the worst is not over,” warns the expert.” This is an epidemic that we will live with for a few more months and therefore we must continue to be vigilant,” warns Professor Zidouni.

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

Meeting of the High Security Council: Tebboune’s instructions

The President of the Republic, Mr. Abdelmadjid Tebboune, Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, Minister of National Defense, chaired, on Monday, January 4, 2021, a meeting of the High Security Council devoted to assessing the general situation in the country, particularly the political and economic situation, and recent developments in the region and internationally, reports a communiqué of the Presidency of the Republic.

After hearing the members of the High Security Council on the issues on the agenda, the President instructed that all necessary measures be taken to support strong economic growth, especially after the recession of the national economy induced by the Covid-19 epidemic and the collapse of oil prices.

It also directed that a mechanism be put in place to encourage and motivate producers, with the participation of the private and public sectors.

In addition, the President of the Republic welcomed the efforts made to maintain general stability in a tense and complex regional environment.

In conclusion, President Tebboune insisted on the need to maintain vigilance and prudence at all levels, to enable Algeria to enter the next important stages, in a way that adapts to the challenges of 2021, with the unprecedented developments that the region has experienced in recent times.

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

Algeria: seven migrant bodies found on a beach, 19 others dead in the Sahara

A shipwreck and a road accident have caused at least 26 deaths in recent days among sub-Saharan migrants trying to reach Europe via Algeria.

The weekend was particularly deadly for migrants in Algeria: seven bodies of shipwrecked people were discovered on Saturday January 02, 2021 on the coast of Mostaganem in the north-west of the country. Two days earlier, on Thursday 31 January, 19 sub-Saharan migrants also perished, this time in a road accident near Tamanrasset in the Sahara.

In a statement, the Civil Protection suggested that the shipwreck had probably occurred much earlier given the state of the remains: “The decomposed bodies of four women and three men, washed up by the waves, were found on the beach,” it said. Some associations mention the presence of children among the victims.

The exact circumstances of the shipwreck have not been specified, nor the nationalities of the victims, but it would appear that they were trying to reach Europe by sea in bad weather conditions. According to AFP, violent winds of up to 70km/h have been blowing along the Algerian coast in recent days.

In recent years, in addition to sub-Saharan Africans, an increasing number of North Africans have ventured across the central and western Mediterranean. According to the European border control agency Frontex, between January and November 2020, more than 34,000 people attempted to cross the Central Mediterranean, including more than 12,448 Tunisians, 4,380 Bangladeshis, 1,771 Ivorians, 1,645 Sudanese and 1,384 Algerians.

Over the same period, the Western Mediterranean route saw more than 15,800 crossings, including 10,612 Algerians, 3,230 Moroccans, 1,602 sub-Saharan Africans whose nationality was not specified, 109 Malians and 100 Guineans.

These statistics are largely underestimated, according to some specialists in illegal immigration issues such as the Algerian lawyer Kouceila Zerguine. According to him, departures have resumed in recent months, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, especially from the port of Annaba (northeast), he told AFP.

Twenty dead including nineteen migrants dead in the desert

Two days before the macabre discovery of these seven bodies in Mostaganem, another tragedy occurred, this time in the Sahara, a hundred kilometres from Tamanrasset, a region on the border between Niger and Mali, known to be a place of transit to Europe for sub-Saharan migrants despite the dangerousness of the roads.

Nineteen African migrants, including children, died when their pick-up truck overturned on Thursday afternoon in the commune of Ain M’guel, on the road between Ain Salah and Tamanrasset, according to the Algerian civil protection. The driver, an Algerian, also died in the accident and 11 people were injured, treated on the spot and then quickly transported to a hospital in the region, according to the rescuers. The damaged vehicle was completely destroyed.

“The Civil Protection calls on all drivers to respect the highway code and to be more careful to preserve their safety and that of others,” reacted the organisation on its Facebook page.

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

Benbouzid at the head of a medical solidarity mission in Mauritania

The Minister of Health, Population and Hospital Reform, Prof. Abderrahmane Benbouzid, on Monday made a working visit to Mauritania at the head of a medical mission composed of members of the scientific committee monitoring the evolution of the Coronavirus pandemic and including several specialists and technicians, equipped with medical aids.

The minister said, in a statement on his departure from Houari Boumediene International Airport, that “the Algerian state will send two planes, as part of this operation of solidarity with the brotherly Mauritanian people, the first to transport the ministerial delegation and medical staff, and the second, loaded with aid consisting of medical supplies for the prevention against COVID-19”.

He recalled in this sense that this visit, which comes in concretisation of the decision of the President of the Republic, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, was part of “the steps taken by the two countries aimed at consolidating bilateral relations in all areas, especially in the health sector, especially in this difficult situation that the world is going through because of the spread of the new coronavirus.

For his part, the Mauritanian ambassador to Algeria, Blah Ould Bkia, welcomed this initiative, welcoming the fact that Algerian doctors will, through this mission, provide support to their Mauritanian colleagues who, he said, will thus benefit from the Algerian experience in the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19).

“The sending of this mission marks the beginning of the deployment of a cooperation plan in this field, between the two countries,” he said.

The Algerian medical mission, which will stay in Mauritania for 15 days, will provide assistance to medical staff in Mauritanian hospitals where several activities in this field are planned.

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

January 03, 2021

COVID-19: Solidarity has helped mitigate economic consequences

The spirit of fraternity, solidarity and belonging shown by the populations, companies and associations, having acted as “active allies” of the public authorities, has helped to mitigate the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on the country’s economy, according to the 1st report on economic recovery (2020-2024) drawn up by the delegated ministry in charge of Foresight.

In this document, a copy of which was obtained by APS, it was emphasised that “the public authorities have found in the population, associations and businesses in all their diversity, village and neighbourhood committees, active allies in mitigating the consequences of the disruptions that occurred at the beginning of the pandemic”, reporting a “degree of awareness” and a “spirit of solidarity” that helped coordinate efforts on the ground.

The ministry recalled,, the various measures adopted by the public authorities, particularly those taken on the health front to limit the spread of the virus, social measures (granting compensation, exceptional leave, financial assistance to the professionals most affected) as well as economic measures including banking, fiscal and parafiscal, administrative and regulatory provisions.

In addition to the remarkable rescue efforts deployed by the State from the very beginning of the pandemic, the report also highlighted the multiplication of initiatives undertaken by researchers, academics, students and entrepreneurs to produce various prevention articles.

Impact of COVID-19: sharp decline in GDP and rising trade deficit in 2020

Addressing the impact of the Coronavirus on the country, the report noted that it is difficult to estimate “the full extent of the consequences at both the economic and social levels”, pointing to the “many gaps in the national information system”.

Based on data from the Ministry of Finance, the report indicated that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is expected to experience a “sharp decline” in 2020 of around 4.6%, while the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased for all product groups during the first 8 months of 2020.

Inflation will thus be in the order of 3.5% for the year 2020 and should reach 3.7% in 2021, he said.

During the first 11 months of 2020, the trade balance “has deteriorated sharply by 84% compared to the same period in 2019 (6 billion dollars deficit)” and this, “despite a drop in imports of about 7 billion dollars (-18.25%), says the ministry in its report.

Impacted by the fall in oil prices following the consequences of COVID-19 on the world economy, hydrocarbon revenues, which represent more than 92% of exports, have decreased in greater proportions than imports, a drop of 34.82%, according to the same report.

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

COVID-19: opening of Koranic schools and zaouias from Monday

Nearly one million students will join Koranic schools and zaouias, from Monday, in strict compliance with the health protocol developed by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and wakfs to contain the pandemic of the new coronavirus, said Sunday an official at the ministry.

Contacted by the APS, the inspector general at the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Wakfs, Bezzaz Lakhmissi stressed that the return of students to Koranic schools and zaouias will be done this year gradually, because of the health crisis that motivated the organization of extensive campaigns of disinfection and cleaning of classrooms, in addition to the measures provided under the health protocol.

Under the implementation of the health protocol, only 50% of the capacity of Koranic schools and zaouias will be exploited, with the adoption of the double-shift system to meet the criterion of physical distance,” especially for some 21,000 children who have not yet reached school age, spread across 1980 Koranic schools annexed to the mosques and 507 other autonomous, said Mr. Lakhmissi also chairman of the committee monitoring the opening of mosques.

25,458 executives including 14,541 volunteers will be responsible for teaching students of Koranic schools and zaouias, including residents of Koranic schools (13,000 residents including 300 foreign students), reciters of the Holy Koran, learners of literacy classes and students of the three cycles of education.

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

January 02, 2020

Choosing the Russian ant-Covid vaccine: the opinions and recommendations of two specialists

Algeria has opted for the Russian Covid vaccine in order to begin mass vaccination this January. The announcement was made Wednesday by the government. The Pasteur Institute of Algeria is continuing consultations with other laboratories to possibly acquire other vaccines.

The announcement of Algeria’s order for batches of the Russian vaccine against COVID-19 was greeted with relief by specialists. “I think that if we are going to vaccinate en masse and within the deadline set by the President of the Republic (January), we have no choice but to opt for the vaccine that is available and has already been used in the country of manufacture,” explains the head of the pneumology department of the EHU Oran, Professor Salah Lellou, in a statement to TSA.

“The Russian vaccine is initially easy to store at temperatures between 2° and 8°. It is also easy to transport. Therefore, there is no reason why it shouldn’t work. You have to wait for the results. The vaccine is about 70% effective. For the moment, it seems to be the most appropriate,” he says.

Algeria could acquire the vaccine from AstraZeneca

The next vaccine that Algeria could turn to is the one developed by AstraZeneca in cooperation with Oxford University, predicts Pr Lellou.

A vaccine that also has the same storage and transport characteristics as the Russian one and whose price is accessible, contrary to the logistical constraints and high prices of the vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. A Chinese vaccine is also conceivable, adds the scientist.

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

Acquisition of the Russian COVD-19 vaccine, Sputnik V: The budget could amount to 20 billion dinars.

The Algerian government finally opted for the Russian vaccine, Sputinik-V.

Algeria has signed a contract with a Russian laboratory for the acquisition of the ant-COVID-19 vaccine, said Communication Minister, government spokesman Amar Belhimer at the end of the government meeting on Wednesday. Belhimer said Health Minister Abderrahmane Benbouzid announced the signing of a private contract with a Russian laboratory for the acquisition of the anti-COVID-19 vaccine, pursuant to the decision of the President of the Republic, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, to launch the vaccination operation as early as January 2021. He specified that the Pasteur Institute Algeria (IPA) has begun, as a first step, consultations with the Russian laboratory producing the Sputnik V vaccine. He added that discussions are also underway with other countries in the same framework.

“50 countries have placed orders”.

The Minister of Health had presented, during the government meeting, the steps taken on “the state of progress of the related contracts, which will soon allow the reception of the first deliveries of the vaccine and the start of the vaccination operation next January”.

The acceleration of the vaccine acquisition operation came after the Head of State instructed his Prime Minister to chair “without delay” a meeting with the scientific committee monitoring the evolution of the pandemic to choose the COVID-19 vaccine and to launch the vaccination campaign starting this January. Speaking on the programme “Echourouk morning”, the director general of the budget, Abdelaziz Fayed, said that the envelope allocated by the state for the acquisition of the vaccine against Covid could amount to 20 billion dinars (more than 123 million).

This budget is available for the purchase of an initial 500,000 doses of the vaccine. The Russian Ministry of Health approved the Sputnik V (GamCovidVac) vaccine on 11 August.

The Sputnik-V vaccine, developed by the Gamaleïa research centre in Moscow, is 95% effective, the Russian Ministry of Health and the Russian Sovereign Fund said in a press release from the centre. “The price of a dose of Sputnik V for the international market will be less than 10 dollars” (about 8.5 euros), the Russian Sovereign Fund announced in a press release.

The latter has announced that 50 countries have signed supply contracts with Russia, reports the online daily One billion doses are already scheduled for export.

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

December 31, 2020

COVID-19: Partial confinement at extended home in 29 wilayas

The Prime Minister, Abdelaziz Djerad, said to extend the partial confinement at home in 29 wilayas for a period of fifteen days from tomorrow, Friday, January 1, 202.0 announced, Thursday, December 31, 2020, a statement by the Prime Minister.

Pursuant to the instructions of the President of the Republic, Mr. Abdelmadjid Tebboune, Supreme Chief of the Armed Forces, Minister of National Defence and at the end of consultations with the scientific committee for monitoring the evolution of the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) and the health authority, Prime Minister Abdelaziz DJERAD has decided on additional measures under the management mechanism of the health crisis related to the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).

These measures are as follows:

1. In terms of partial confinement at home :

  • The measure of partial confinement at home from 8 p.m. (20) until 5 a.m. the next day is applicable for the following twenty-nine (29) wilayas: Laghouat, Oum El Bouaghi, Batna, Bejaia, Biskra, Blida, Bouira, Tebessa, Tlemcen, Tizi-Ouzou, Algiers, Jijel, Sétif, Sidi Bel Abbes, Annaba, Guelma, Constantine, Médéa, Mostaganem, M’Sila, Mascara, Oran, Boumerdes, El Tarf, Tissemsilt, Souk Ahras, Tipaza, Ain Temouchent and Relizane.
  • The measure of confinement at home does not apply to the following nineteen (19) wilayas: Adrar, Chlef, Béchar, Tamenghasset, Tiaret, Djelfa, Saïda, Skikda, Ouargla, El Bayadh, Illizi, Bordj Bou Arréridj, Tindouf, El Oued, Khenchela, Mila, Ain Defla, Naâma and Ghardaia.

The walis can, after agreement of the competent authorities, take all measures required by the sanitary situation of each wilaya, in particular the introduction, modification or modulation of schedules, of the measure of partial or total targeted confinement at home of one or several communes, localities or districts where there are outbreaks of contamination.These containment measures are applicable, as from Friday 1st January 2021, for a period of fifteen (15) days.

2. For public passenger transport services :

Air services of public passenger transport on the domestic network:

The continuity of air services of public transport of passengers on the domestic network concerning the totality of the services from and towards the wilayas of the south of the country and 50% of the flights serving those of the north of the country, with the implementation and the strict respect of the sanitary protocols specific to the airports and on board aircraft, elaborated on the basis of the recommendations of the civil aviation authorities and adopted by the scientific committee of follow-up of the evolution of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Road transport on inter-wilaya links : The gradual and controlled resumption of transport activities by multiplying the number of services, in order to ensure the strict respect of barrier measures and by increasing the offer of secure transport, through specific health protocols drawn up for each mode of transport and adopted by the scientific committee monitoring the evolution of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The gradual and controlled resumption will concern inter-wilaya transport by train, coach and taxi, with the number of passengers limited to 50% of capacity for buses and coaches, 5 people for 9-seater vehicles and 4 people for 7-seater vehicles.

The resumption of metro and cable (cable car) transport will be made, in a second stage, according to the evolution of the epidemiological situation.

The gradual and controlled resumption of transport activities will be authorised on condition that health protocols are scrupulously respected, with passengers being made aware of the need for strict compliance with prevention rules and the involvement of the social partners and representatives of transport operators in raising awareness, taking responsibility and reporting any shortcomings.

The security services will ensure compliance with the prevention and protection measures and health protocols adopted for each mode of transport by the scientific committee monitoring the evolution of the Coronavirus pandemic and the application of regulatory sanctions against offenders.

The gradual and controlled resumption of these transport activities is applicable from Friday 1st January 2021.

3. In terms of social and economic activities:

The extension of the measure to close, for a period of fifteen (15) days, the second-hand vehicle sales markets throughout the national territory.

The extension of the closure measure, for a period of fifteen (15) days and in the twenty-nine (29) wilayas concerned by the partial confinement of the following activities at home:

  • omnisports halls and sports halls ;
  • places of pleasure, relaxation, recreational and leisure spaces and beaches ;
  • youth centres;
  • cultural centres.

Extension of the measure limiting the activities of cafés, restaurants and fast-food outlets to take-away sales only.

The extension of the measure of limitation, in the wilayas concerned by the partial confinement at home, of the activity time of certain shops which will have to cease all activities from nineteen (19) o’clock in the evening.

However, the Walis will be able to proceed to their immediate closure in case of infringement of the measures enacted within the framework of the fight against the spread of COVID-19.

The extension of the measures applicable to the ordinary markets and the weekly markets relating to the control mechanism by the competent services in order to ensure compliance with the prevention and protection measures as well as the application of the penalties provided for by the regulations in force against offenders.

4. For Koranic schools :

The opening of Koranic schools in strict compliance with the health measures and protocols for prevention and protection against the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), adopted for schools, under the control and supervision of the wilaya directors of religious affairs and wakfs, in close coordination with the civil protection and APC services and with the assistance of neighbourhood committees and the local associative movement.

In the event of non-compliance with the health measures and protocols for the prevention and protection against the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), immediate closure will be pronounced.

5. Concerning public gatherings and rallies :

The extension of the ban, throughout the national territory, on any type of gathering of persons and family reunification, in particular the celebration of marriages and circumcision and other events such as reunifications at cemetery level.

The extension of the prohibition measure concerning meetings and general assemblies organised by certain institutions.

The walis will ensure compliance with this prohibition and the application of regulatory sanctions against offenders as well as the owners of the places hosting these reunifications.

Finally, and despite the downward trend in the number of cases of contamination noted over the last few days, the Government reiterates its calls for prudence and discipline towards the citizens who must continue to mobilise to fight against the spread of this epidemic and take up this health challenge.

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

Vaccine against COVID-19: Algeria opts for Sputnik V from Russia

After several months of consultations, Algeria finally decided to equip itself with the Russian weapon to eradicate COVID-19, namely the Sputnik V vaccine.

In order to cut off the virulent crown virus which has so far caused more than 2,700 deaths in the country, the government is well on its way with its preparations. Thus, and after several months, hopes of a parade against the virus are beginning to take shape. Indeed, Algeria has just announced that it has chosen to acquire the Russian vaccine against COVID-19, Sputnik V to continue the great battle, according to Algérie Eco.
This is indeed what the Minister of Communication and spokesman for the government, Ammar Belhimer said on Wednesday, December 30. The announcement was made after a government meeting chaired by Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad. In the latter, Health Minister Abderrahmane Benbouzid unveiled the signing of a contract with a Russian laboratory to acquire the above-mentioned vaccine.
The said contract comes in order to materialize the order given by the President of the Republic, Abdelmadjid Tebboune on December 20. The latter has, for the record, instructed the Prime Minister to choose an effective vaccine. This to launch the vaccination campaign in January. However, this contract is not synonymous with the end of consultations between Algeria and Russia.

Sputnik V vaccine: Algerian government budget and effectiveness

Without going into too much detail about the detailed timetable or the vaccination strategy and plan, the same speaker said that the Pasteur Institute of Algeria will continue to enter into discussions with the Russian laboratory but also with other foreign parties.
The unofficial thus becomes official. Algeria has finally opted for the famous Russian vaccine Sputnik V. This is 91.4% effective. As a reminder, the Director General of the Budget, Abdelaziz Fayed, has lifted the veil on the budget allocated to the acquisition of the vaccine. According to him, the government has released a budget of 1.5 billion dollars to acquire 500,000 doses of the said substance.
The delivery of this first batch will take place in January. This budget, according to him, could even reach 20 billion dollars if necessary. It should also be noted that the Minister of Health has announced that the vaccine will be free for all. The statement was made at Liberté on December 4.

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

December 29, 2020

Ghardaïa: the service sector heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic

A crucial activity in Ghardaia’s local economy, the service sector, especially tourism, handicrafts and transport, has been strongly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic during the year 2020.

The local economy, based mainly on tourism and handicrafts, has experienced an asphyxiating crisis due to restrictions on people’s mobility, border closures and distancing measures imposed for health prevention reasons.

These restrictions have brought to a “complete” halt the activities of tourism, handicrafts and transport, considered as “the lung” of the local economy very open to its external environment, said to the APS a tourism professional in Ghardaia, Abdelkader Benkhelifa.

The tourist activity, which had already experienced during the year 2019 a decline in attendance at the destination “Ghardaia”, has been severely affected during the year 2020 by the drastic containment measures taken by public authorities to fight against COVID-19, noted Mr. Benkhelifa, manager of the hotel “Rym”.

These drastic measures, recommended by the country’s high health authorities to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and the suspension of air traffic, have led to a total halt in tourist activity and the closure of establishments operating in accommodation, catering and transport, followed by layoffs of workers in this sector.

For many tourism professionals in Ghardaia, the tourist sector, the backbone of the region’s economy, has been suffering for several months from a lack of visibility regarding its prospects for development and from “unexplained” bureaucracy, and several hotel professionals have changed activity or converted to dormitory accommodation.

The professionals of the destination of M’zab, the thermal resort of Zelfana and the region of El-Menea in the wilaya of Ghardaia remain optimistic, however, and are preparing a revival plan based on the promotion and reinforcement of the attractiveness of the destination, using digital technology to attract more visitors, prioritise the national clientele and build loyalty.

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