The Algerian government has decided to keep its borders closed and on Monday evening notified the local authorities to implement “targeted containment” of the resorts to fight the re-emergence of the Covid-19 cases.
On Monday, June 29, Algeria decided to keep its borders closed until further notice, following a surge in pollution in Covid-19. According to the authorities, this is because the “population” is loosened and the protection rules are not followed.
This recovery risks having lasting consequences for the everyday lives of the Algerians and for the socio-economic situation in the largest country in Africa.
What is the current state of the pandemic?
Algeria is plagued by an outbreak of infection. Three weeks after the first deconfunding measures, the contamination registers fall day after day (+305 Sunday).
According to the latest official report, a total of 13 571 people have been infected and more than 900 deaths have been registered since the first case on February 25.
“My big fear about what is happening is that we are in a situation that is identical to that in Spain and Italy. The situation is serious,” worries Dr. Youcef Boukhari, director of the Prevention Service at the Oran Department of Health and Population ( DSP), in the French-language newspaper Liberté.
Why this recovery in contamination?
“It is the result of relaxation, carelessness, especially in certain wilayas (prefectures) such as in Blida,” near Algiers, the epidemic’s first focus, told AFP President of the Council of the Pharmaceutical Association, Mohamed Bekkat Berkani.
But the situation is not “catastrophic,” says Dr. Bekkat Berkani, a member of the Scientific Committee to oversee the development of the pandemic. For him, the first wave is still not over.
What action has the authorities taken?
A curfew is in place in 29 of the 48 prefectures in the country. The government called on the local authorities on Monday to implement “targeted containment of places, municipalities or districts that experience homes or + clusters + pollution”.
Wearing a mask is mandatory and perpetrators are sentenced to heavy fines.
All public collection is strictly prohibited.
Finally, the boundaries remain closed until further notice.
How does the population react?
The population has not fully adhered to preventive measures. Some continue to claim that the virus is an invention of the state, especially on social networks.
Although mandatory, the wearing of a mask has not been generalized.
Wedding processes – this is the season – have been seen and demonstrations of “Hirak”, the protest movement against the regime, have resumed in the provinces, despite the ban on all public gatherings.
In the working classes in Algiers, where families live in cramped conditions, many defy the curfew.
Dr. Bekkat Berkani regrets that some have resumed their habits “as before”. And he criticizes the political parties “more concerned about their internal kitchen than with the Holy Union for fighting Covid-19”.
How about the care staff?
“Everyone is out of breath. The doctors are at the end of their ropes. The hospital structures are overwhelmed,” says the Attorney General’s Advocacy Council and believes that “the state institutions were somewhere weak.”
Who will have the human and economic impact if the rebound remains?
Many have already lost their only source of income.
For those who worked in small businesses in the informal sector and had no social security cover, “the impact is terrible,” the economist Mansour Kedidir recalls: “They were in uncertainty. Today they are in ‘extreme poverty’.
Charities and neighborhood committees collect donations for the poorest in the entire country.
“The Algerian economy has been hit very hard but the machine has not stopped,” says Mansour Kedidir.
But if many public or private companies have adapted, small companies have lost “half their turnover”.
In the case of Air Algérie, the national airline, it could lose 89 billion dinars (EUR 612 million) by the end of the year.
Can we expect the borders to be closed for several months?
The decision to keep the boundaries closed is “favorable until the epidemic is brought under control,” says Dr. Bekkat Berkani.
“It is a precautionary measure that will surely protect Algeria from imported cases. Covid-19 is a disease imported into Algeria by two immigrants from France,” he recalls.
Granted, the limits will be closed to the economy, but the state has no choice for an exponential increase in cases, says economist Mansour Kedidir.
However, the latter considers that if there is complete compliance with the preventive measures, the limits can be opened in two weeks.