Algeria imposes more restrictions as pandemic intensifies

The North African country has recorded a worrying increase in the number of infections and deaths from the coronavirus
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AFP/RYAD KRAMDI  -   Algerian doctors administer a dose of COVID-19 vaccine to people outside the El-Kebir mosque in the capital Algiers

Algerian authorities on Sunday announced a series of precautionary measures by readjusting the schedules of partial confinement in almost the entire country, accelerating the pace of vaccination and raising the level of firmness to the highest point in the application of these measures to try to deal with the pandemic.

Algeria has seen a worrying increase in the number of infections and deaths in recent weeks.

The decision was taken during the Council of Ministers chaired by President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, during which it was decided to partially confine a total of 35 of the country's 58 cities, including the capital Algiers, considered "most affected" areas.

The new night-time curfew will take effect from tomorrow and will be enforced from 8pm local time (19:00 GMT) until 6am for a period of ten days given the spike in positive cases in recent days instead of the current time (23:00-4:00).

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PHOTO/REUTERS - Tents set up during a vaccination campaign against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) being carried out outside mosques

The day's meeting came amid a sharp rise in positive cases, but also in fatalities that have soared in recent days as hospitals have been overwhelmed with insufficient beds to deal with the pandemic and a lack of oxygen.

In this regard, Tebboune who ordered the immediate launch of a large-scale operation to maintain and renew the infrastructure and oxygen equipment in hospitals reported that a first batch of 1,050 oxygen concentrators for personal use was expected to arrive on Sunday and a total of 9,000 concentrators will be received over the next two weeks.

In addition, it was decided to raise the level of firmness to the highest point in the application of protective measures, it said, particularly in enclosed commercial spaces.

The head of state mandated to accelerate the pace of vaccination in densely populated cities that are a breeding ground for the pandemic by setting a target of vaccinating "immediately" 2.5 million people in the capital Algiers and 50% of the population in the cities of Oran (west), Constantine, Setif (east) and Ouargla (south).

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AFP/ RYAD KRAMDI - Tebboune said a first batch of 1,050 oxygen concentrators for personal use was expected to arrive on Sunday and a total of 9,000 concentrators will be received over the next two weeks

All gatherings, including wedding celebrations, will also be banned, while cafes and restaurants will limit their sales activities and will only be allowed to provide take-away services.

The North African country, with a population of more than 44 million, is recording a significant increase in the number of positive cases and deaths, which, according to the Ministry of Health, has added 1,287 new infections and 16 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the number of cases to 162,155 and the number of deaths to 4,063 since the beginning of the pandemic.

The Delta variant has seen "accelerated" activity since the beginning of July and accounts for 71% of all infections, according to the Algerian Pasteur Institute (IPA).