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News around Africa - March 20, 2020

COVID19: Algeria Suspends Public Transportation, Gatherings and More

Due to the effects of COVID19, the government of Algeria has said that it would enact measures including the suspension of public transportation and paid leave for half of state employees.

Algeria will suspend public transport, close cafes and restaurants, tell half its state employees to stay home and order security forces to tighten the bar on public gatherings, the government said on Thursday.

These measures will come into force on Sunday, after the weekend which is marked on Friday and Saturday in Algeria.

The North African country has reported 90 cases of the coronavirus already, with nine deaths, mostly in the Bilda area south of the capital, though others have been reported around the country.

Coronavirus and the Algerian Protests

Abdelmadjid Tebboune – President of Algeria

Last week, thousands of Algerians defied the threat of coronavirus on Friday to march against the ruling elite, keeping up a campaign of weekly protests that have lasted for more than a year and convulsed national politics.

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune earlier this week ordered an end to these street protests, likely bringing to an end a year of mass demonstrations aimed at bringing down the old ruling elite.

Meanwhile, some protesters said they remained committed to keeping their protest movement – known as Hirak, or ‘movement’ – in force until they achieve their demand of pushing the old ruling elite from power.

COVID19: Algeria Suspends Domestic Flights, Public Transportation and Assemblies
Protesters in Algeria

“I will continue. I will never stop until the system is defeated,” said Slimani Aissi, 22, on Didouche Mourad Boulevard in the city center.

However, the threat from the coronavirus persuaded some protesters to desist for now.

Coronavirus and Algerian Aviation

From March 22 to April 4, Algeria will suspend all domestic flights to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Algeria has already locked down all commercial passenger travel with the outside world. On Thursday nearly 1,400 people returned by ship from France and they will be put straight into quarantine.

The crisis comes at a critical moment for Algeria, where looming economic problems look likely to be accelerated by the crash in oil prices, potentially halving the energy revenues on which the state budget depends.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Royal Air Maroc grounds a Third of its Fleet

Algeria has closed its mosques amid fears of coronavirus spreading, reported Reuters on Tuesday.

The announcement was made by the religious authorities and comes after the country reported a death from coronavirus in the Bilda province, southwest of the capital Algiers.

Algeria reported its first case of coronavirus, known technically as COVID19, on February 25. The man had arrived from Italy, which has been one of the centres of the outbreak globally.

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