Coronavirus: controversy in Algeria around a flight from China

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Air Algeria made a flight between Beijing and Algiers on Monday March 2 to repatriate Algerian nationals stranded in China because of the coronavirus, said the director general of the company, which denied any resumption of commercial flights between the two countries. The news of the theft sparked controversy in the country.

The flight carried out Monday March 2 by the airline company Air Algeria between Beijing and Algiers started a strong reaction in the country because of the epidemic of the coronavirus of which China is the cradle. Thus, in a message published on his Facebook page, Senator Abdelouahab Benzaïm points to an “irresponsible” decision by the competent authorities. The director general of Air Algeria denies in a statement to the news site Echorouk News the resumption of commercial flights between his country and China.

The suspicion arose following the flight was carried out by Air Algeria the day after the audience granted by the Algerian Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad to the Chinese ambassador in Algiers. During this meeting, the two men discussed the resumption of projects entrusted to Chinese companies in Algeria.

“A question of national security”

“The coronavirus and its spread are a matter of national security,” wrote Senator Abdelouahab Benzaïm on his Facebook page. “Allowing Chinese people to enter is an irresponsible decision on the part of the Ministry of Transport,” he denounced, stressing that “the whole world lives in psychosis and fear, and we are resuming flights with China”.

However, in a statement to the Echorouk News site, the director general of Air Algeria, Bakhouche Allèche, says that his company has not resumed commercial flights to China.

According to him, it is an exceptional flight intended to repatriate Algerian nationals stranded in this country. The official also said that nationals of other countries were also on board the Airbus A330, which was to land at 2 pm on the tarmac at Algiers airport. Air Algeria had already carried out a flight of this kind on board of which Algerian students, Tunisians, Mauritanians and Libyans had been repatriated on the orders of President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

The Algerian Ministry of Health announced on Monday (March 2nd) the identification of two other confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country, an Algerian national and his daughter, which brings the number of people affected by the disease to five. These two new infected belong to the same family of the two patients diagnosed the same day in Blida.

Emergency measures

During the meeting of the High Security Council notably devoted to the question of the coronavirus, President Tebboune ordered “to keep a high degree of vigilance and to mobilize all the sectors concerned in order to face any eventuality”, indicates the note of the presidency of the Republic relayed by the official agency Algeria Press Service (APS). The document also claims that Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad has presented an assessment report in which he says the situation is under control.

During his visit to El Kettar Hospital in Algiers on Sunday March 1, the Algerian Minister of Health Abderrahmane Benbouzid affirmed that “all measures have been taken to deal with any new outbreak of this disease”, reports the APS.

In the same vein, he underlined that all hospitals have been firmly instructed to equip themselves with the necessary equipment, in particular half-masks filtering the shell and surgical masks with elastic bands, overalls, glasses, gels and disposable sheets. Finally, the Minister announced that he had banned manufacturers of protective masks from exporting to the rest of the world in order to keep stocks at a high level to deal with any eventuality.

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