Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad announced on Monday, March 16, that all travel via air and sea to and from Europe will be suspended from Thursday, March 19, to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). However, all travel via air and sea to and from France will be suspended from Tuesday, March 17. Air Algerie is scheduled to arrange flights for citizens returning from France. Flights to and from Spain and Italy remain suspended. Air Algerie has also announced the temporary suspension of its flight services to and from Tunis, Cairo, Dubai, Doha, and Amman from March 17. Prime Minister Djerad further announced the suspension of flights to several African destinations including Senegal, Mali, Niger, Mauritania, Cote d'Ivoire, and Burkina Faso from March 19.
Authorities in Alger, Blida, and other wilayas have closed public and commercial spaces, including several shopping centers with the exception of supermarkets and mosques, as of Monday. Local media outlets have reported nationwide business disruptions. Some leaders of the popular opposition movement have appealed for a pause in the twice-weekly opposition demonstrations that have so far retained high participation rates - particularly in the capital Algiers.
As of March 16, officials have confirmed 60 cases of COVID-19 nationwide and four associated fatalities. Further spread of the virus is expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.