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Algeria Says Protest Bar 'Not on Agenda' as Lebanon Reports 2nd Coronavirus Case

Algeria Says Protest Bar 'Not on Agenda' as Lebanon Reports 2nd Coronavirus Case

Wednesday, 26 February, 2020 - 11:45
A man wearing a face mask jogs near the National Center for the Performing Arts, following an outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the country, in Beijing, China February 22, 2020. REUTERS/Stringer
Asharq Al-Awsat

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. Lebanon, meanwhile, reported its second case of the disease.

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, Reuters quoted him as saying that the authorities would reinforce controls on planes arriving in Algeria, particularly those coming from Italy.

In contrast, Iraq chose to ban all public gatherings and banned travelers from Kuwait and Bahrain from entry, the health minister said on Wednesday, taking the total number of countries on the entry ban list to nine amid growing fears over the spread of the coronavirus.

Iraqi citizens are now also banned from travelling to the nine countries which are China, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Italy, Bahrain, and Kuwait, the minister said in a decree seen by Reuters.

He also ordered the suspension of schools and university and the closure of cinemas, cafes, clubs, and other public gathering spots nationwide from Feb. 27 to March 7.

Lebanon confirmed on Wednesday its second case of coronavirus and said the patient was quarantined in a Beirut hospital after returning from a religious trip to Iran.

The woman started to show symptoms of the illness on Monday after arriving last week on the same flight as the first person in Lebanon to be infected with the coronavirus, the health ministry said in a statement.

Their plane had been carrying around 150 passengers and anybody who exhibited symptoms would be tested and quarantined, Health Minister Hamad Hassan has said. Others were instructed to remain isolated at home for 14 days.

Lebanon’s government decided on Tuesday to restrict trips to countries with coronavirus outbreaks.

Iran reported 139 cases and 19 deaths on Wednesday, the most outside China, where the virus emerged in late 2019.

The sudden rise in novel coronavirus cases in Italy, Iran and South Korea is “deeply concerning”, but the virus can still be contained and does not amount to a pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) chief said on Wednesday

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