ALGIERS- At the heart of the 4th wave of the Coronavirus epidemic, Algeria is facing a phenomenal spread of the Omicron variant. Following this surge, a new sub-variant, namely; Omicron BA.2. has been detected in Algeria.
In this vein, the Director General of the Pasteur Institute of Algeria, Dr. Fawzi Derrar announced, today, Sunday, January 30, the appearance of cases of the new Omicron mutation BA.2. in Algeria.
Guest of the National Radio, Dr. Derrar stated that the cases of this new sub-variant have been detected in the provinces of Algiers, constantine and oran.
As long as the gravity of this strain is concerned, the same official explained that the new Omicron variant mutation remains at the same level as its first mutation, while calling on citizens to be more vigilant.
It should be noted that the new Omicron sub-variant, called BA.2, appeared one week after the detection of the initial strain. The BA.2 sub-variant is an evolved form of the BA.1 mutation, commonly referred to as Omicron.
Denmark’s leading public health institute stated, on Wednesday, that the BA.2 subvariant is spreading more than 1.5 times faster than the original version ba.1.
Omicron is less likely to cause severe illness than the previous delta variant, according to studies.
Omicron spreads even more easily than other Coronavirus strains, and has already become dominant in many countries. It also more easily infects those who have been vaccinated or had previously been infected by prior versions of the virus.
The inoculation rate in Algeria remains low. Less than a quarter of the population has had even one vaccine dose despite the government’s robust vaccination campaign in state media and on social networks.
Algeria has a stock of vaccines that can largely ensure coverage of vaccination needs for two years, the minister said. Overall, only 13% of Algeria’s 45 million inhabitants, have been inoculated, the minister said. Of eligible adults, only 29% have received two vaccine doses, he said.
Noting that following the rise in Covid-19 cases, Algeria has decided to close its schools for additional 07 days.
In a related context, the General Directorate of Penitentiary Administration and Reintegration, announced, today, the suspension of visits to prisoners for children under 16 at the level of all penitentiary establishments.
Minors under the age of 16 are no longer authorized to visit their families incarcerated through all prison establishments for a period of 15 days. This measure is applied from today, Thursday January 27, 2022.
Faced with the growing number of Covid-19 infections within the justice sector personnel, the Ministry of Justice has stepped up measures to curb this rapid spread by freezing the judicial activities for 15 days. The presidents of the tribunals and courts, as well as the representatives of the public prosecutor’s office have received correspondence, specifying that the criminal and correctional hearings of the defendants who are not in pre-trial detention, as well as those of the social affairs, family and administrative sections, will be automatically ajourned to dates later than February 13.
For their part, the trials of the accused, who are remanded in custody, are not concerned by this ministerial note.
The ministry also ordered the suspension, for the same reasons, of the reception of citizens in the courthouses and the registration of new cases at the registry, with the exception of files stamped with the seal of urgency.
In a related context, the Culture Ministry announced that museums, cinemas, libraries and other sites would be closed to the public ‘until the health situation improves’.
In addition, most universities have suspended in-person teaching until the beginning of February. Schools across the country were shut for 10 days to curb the spread of the virus.
For its part, the wilaya of Algiers announced, in a press release, new restrictive measures. To this end, public recreational spaces for leisure and relaxation will be shut for a period of ten days, as of Thursday, January 20.
The wilaya of Algiers also called for “strict compliance” with preventive measures in large commercial areas, urban transport and administrations while the wearing of a mask remains “compulsory”.
The wilaya also stressed that “any violation of health protection measures in stores and commercial spaces would lead the the rigorous application of the administrative sanctions in force “.
Health minister called, for his part, Algerians to get vaccinated and save hospitals from collapse as the nation faces a rebound of COVID-19 infections.
He encouraged major institutions including universities to encourage staff to get vaccinated, and organise vaccination drives for employees.
“I urge you to get vaccinated and break the chain of infections which risk bringing our health institutions to their knees,” health minister Abderahmane Benbouzid said at a press conference in the capital, Algiers.
“For now, the hospital staff are managing. The question is, for how long can they hold on?”
Algeria is battling infections from both the delta variant and the highly contagious omicron variant, which now accounts for 60% of COVID-19 infections.
In December, Algeria started requiring a vaccine passport to enter many public venues, seeking to overcome vaccine hesitancy that has left millions of vaccines unused.
The pass is also required for anyone entering or leaving Algeria, as well as for entering sports facilities, cinemas, theaters, museums, town halls and other sites like hammams — bath houses that are popular across the region.