Algeria imposes vaccination pass to increase low vaccination rate


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ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) – Algeria on Sunday began requiring a “vaccine passport” to enter a wide range of public places, in a bid to boost the country’s low vaccination rate and overcome hesitation vaccine that left millions of vaccines unused.

The pass is now compulsory for anyone entering or leaving Algeria, as well as for sports facilities, cinemas, theaters, museums, town halls and a few other sites. This also applies to hammams – public baths which are popular throughout the region.

Less than a quarter of the Algerian population has received even a single dose of vaccine, so the rule will be difficult to enforce. It was announced in a government statement on Saturday night and went into effect on Sunday, leaving Algerians and businesses no time to prepare.

The government said the measure was primarily aimed at addressing a rebound in delta variant infections. Only two cases of the omicron variant have been confirmed in Algeria, but authorities are bracing for more. The government has indicated that other measures could be taken in the coming days depending on the evolution of the epidemic.

Official figures show Algeria has recorded 6,230 COVID-related deaths, including seven last week, and 217,000 cases in total. But even members of the government’s scientific committee admit that the real numbers are much higher. For fear of being blamed for contracting the virus or other scars, some Algerians keep their infections a secret, putting others at risk.

Meanwhile, reluctance to vaccinate remains high, despite an adequate supply.

“More than 13 million vaccines risk being expired if they do not find a taker quickly,” warned the Minister of Health Abderrahmane Benbouzid at the beginning of the month.

According to figures released last week by a member of the government scientific committee, Professor Ryadh Mahyaoui, only 10 million Algerians received a first dose of the vaccine in a population of 45 million.

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