Algeria flight suspension or protest bar ‘not on agenda’ over coronavirus

ALGIERS (Reuters) – Algeria is not planning to ban public protests or suspend flights to Italy after the country’s first case of the coronavirus was identified in an Italian man, a health ministry official said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a news conference in Algiers, Djamel Fouar, director of prevention and control of communicable diseases, said authorities were monitoring everyone who had been in touch with the 61-year-old patient.

The man is from Milan in northern Italy, where an outbreak has been centered, and traveled through Algiers to Ouargla in southern Algeria which is a center for the oil and gas industry.

Asked about a possible suspension of flights or a bar on the mass weekly protests that have rocked Algeria for more than a year, Fouar said such measures were “not on the agenda”.

However, he said authorities would reinforce controls on planes arriving in Algeria, particularly those coming from Italy.

(Reporting by Lamine Chikhi; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Hugh Lawson)