A plane carrying a shipment of desperately needed COVID-19 related medical supplies from Shanghai, China, touched down in Algiers on Sunday, April 5.
Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad greeted the delivery on the tarmac of the Houari Boumediene International Airport, declaring his country is committed to “getting rid of the [novel coronavirus] pandemic sooner or later.”
“This first order by the Hospitals Central Pharmacy (PCH) is composed of 8.5 million three-ply surgical masks and 100, 000 type FFP2 filtration masks,” Djerad, accompanied by Health Minister Abderrahmane Benbouzid, told the media.
Algeria is North Africa’s worst-affected country during the COVID-19 pandemic, reporting 1,251 cases of the disease and 130 deaths as of April 4.
In response to the growing outbreak, Djerad extended the country’s partial lockdown on April 5 to all provinces, except Blida, which is already in full lockdown.
China has overtaken former colonial power France to become Algeria’s top export partner in recent years.
Prior to the latest shipment of supplies, the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) sent a 12-person “task force” to Algeria on March 27, which included seven medical professionals who brought with them expertise and equipment to fight COVID-19.
“We have the confidence and ability to overcome the outbreak, maintain the physical and mental health of Chinese and Algerian employees, and ensure smooth production and operation,” said CSCEC representative Chen Jianguang.
COVID-19 cases have dropped dramatically in China, where the virus originated in December 2019. The country is now turning its attention to providing medical supplies, personnel, and aid to developing countries around the world.
In addition to the Algerian taskforce, CSCEC sent medical supplies and ten Chinese personnel to Egypt on March 17 to assist the country’s efforts to curb the coronavirus.
CSCEC has operations across Africa, including a base in Algeria that houses approximately 4,000 Chinese workers, along with numerous construction projects in Egypt that employ an unknown number of foreign workers. According to Chinese media reports, the company is also building a small hospital that could care for around 9,000 patients in Algeria.
In Egypt, Chinese Ambassador Liao Liqiang praised the country’s anti-coronavirus measures and said a shipment of Chinese medical supplies was on its way to further bolster the Egyptian fight against COVID-19.
The ambassador also thanked Egypt’s Health Minister Hala Zayed for being the first foreign health minister to visit China in February since the COVID-19 outbreak, Egypt’s State Information Service (SIS) reports.
Egypt has also been providing COVID-19 aid to other countries. Zayed delivered 10 tons of protective equipment to assist Chinese medical personnel during her recent diplomatic visit, and sent two jets worth of equipment and supplies to Italy, the European epicenter of the pandemic, on April 4.
Zayed reported 80 new cases of COVID-19 on April 4, bringing Egypt’s total number of recorded cases to 1,070. Health ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed said that 241 people who tested positive for the virus have now recovered, while another 71 people have died from COVID-19.