ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune on Tuesday urged citizens to be “disciplined” to help overcome the coronavirus outbreak even as the number of cases and deaths rose.
Tebboune said on state television that the government is still able to handle the situation despite a fall in energy earnings, the main source of state finances.
OPEC member Algeria earlier this month decided to cut public spending by 30%, halve planned energy investment for this year to $7 billion and delay some social and economic projects after the coronavirus caused a sharp fall in global oil prices.
“You must be disciplined. We lack discipline,” Tebboune said. “People must respect preventive measures and doctors’ advice.”
Some Algerians have ignored steps taken by the government to limit the spread of the virus including a night curfew in 10 provinces and a full lockdown in the Bilda area, south of the capital Algiers.
The government will spend $100 million to import equipment including 100 million masks from China in addition to a local production of 90,000 masks per day.
“We have enough capabilities to cope with the crisis,” Tebboune said. “Regarding food, we have stocks for at least five months. There is no reason to panic.”
Algerians have rushed to buy staple foods, including semolina and flour, in large proportions since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, causing shortages in some provinces.
Algeria will next week extend the closure of schools, universities and mosques, Tebboune said.
Reporting by Hamid Ould Ahmed; editing by Grant McCool