Amid the global coronavirus outbreak, Algerian protesters shunned off their weekly anti-government demonstrations for the first time in more than a year, reported the BBC.
The looming coronavirus threat forced the people to call off the protest that would have been the 57th straight Friday of Hirak anti-regime protests.
The Algerian authorities have banned marches, while the opposition itself has suspended rallies. Algeria has suffered 10 deaths from the new coronavirus and reported 90 confirmed cases of the disease sweeping the globe.
According to Reuters, imprisoned activist Karim Tabbou was among the protest leaders who told demonstrators to suspend their marches.
The protests began in February 2019 after the then president Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced he was going to seek a fifth term in office. As the mass protests grew, the 82-year-old ailing president scrapped his re-election plans and stood down from power. Even after Bouteflika’s exit, the weekly protests continued demanding a complete overhaul of the political system in the North African country.
Talking about the current coronavirus situation in Algeria, the Health Ministry on Friday confirmed the tenth death and four new COVID-19 cases, taking the total number of Covid 19 cases to 94. It added that 32 people have recovered back from the disease.
On Thursday, Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune ordered the authorities to put a ban on any kind of mass public gathering, including in mosques, as a measure to contain the coronavirus. The authorities have also shut down schools, colleges, restaurants, and public transport in cities.
COVID-19 emerged in Wuhan, China in December last year. The deadly virus has since spread to over 160 countries and regions, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University in the U.S. Out of more than 245,000 confirmed cases, the death toll now exceeds 10,000, and over 86,000 have recovered.