As the coronavirus pandemic rages in Algeria, coupled with a lack of vaccines, the authorities have called for not to dramatize the situation on social networks or in the media in an attempt to cover up the reality. The health department of a region was forced to deny it its own.
Instead of reassuring the people about the oxygen crisis that is raging in the country, and which is responsible for the death of several people, the authorities have called for no longer sharing messages on social networks in particular, for fear of ‘a new wave of anger and social protest, as the Hirak was forcibly silenced.
Internet users indeed portray a dramatic situation, they who are confronted with the unadulterated reality of the Algerian state. On social networks, distress calls, fundraising, gestures of solidarity between Algerians, are increasing.
“I ask our people to avoid the cases of panic which are propagated on social networks with the publication of false information and the exploitation of the distress of the sick and their relatives”, declared the Algerian Prime Minister, Aïmene Benabderrahman , on national television.
He also denounced the “publication by some of old photos dating back to the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic”, judging that these shared photos are “an exploitation of the distress of sick citizens and their families”.
He further asked Algerian citizens not to take into account this “kind of false information”. However, the messages of Internet users affirm the contrary, Algerians announce the death of their relatives, their panic is such that calls for help to receive oxygen are shared, and donation campaigns abroad among citizens but also in Algerian consulates in foreign countries.
The Prime Minister launched this call not to share any more publications on social networks qualifying them automatically as false, in the hope of alleviating the accusations of incompetence targeting the Minister of Health Abderrahmane Benbouzid, main accused in the poor management of the health crisis and lack of oxygen.
The latter finally recognized that oxygen was the major problem for hospitals in the country and announced a few days ago the import of 6,000 oxygen concentrators. But the damage has already been done and faced with pressure from the Algerian authorities, the Department of Health and Population of the wilaya (DSP) of the wilaya of Skikda had to deny itself in order not to cause problems.
“We are informing all the citizens of the wilaya of the incident recorded last night, which is the exhaustion of the oxygen tank of the covid-19 referral hospital, despite the operation of the oxygen generator”, had- she said in a press release on Friday, explaining that the depletion of oxygen was “unfortunately accompanied by deaths of hospital patients who were in critical condition, according to medical reports and investigations”.
In another statement released in the evening, the DSP of Skikda denied its own statement saying that “the deaths recorded were patients who have been in very critical situations for several days, according to medical reports, and are not related to depletion of the oxygen tank ”, and to threaten legal action against any person or party wishing to spread fear or misinformation.
This reaction is explained by the warnings of the Prime Minister which followed directives in the same line addressed to the media this time. The Algerian Audiovisual Authority (ARAV) called on the media to no longer focus on information related to the health crisis in Algeria.
The ARAV therefore called on the audiovisual media to “fulfill their missions towards viewers, avoiding focusing excessively on negative news and tragic stories linked to the Covid-19 contamination”.
And to urge the media to “respect professional rules, to show weighting in the coverage, and accuracy in the dissemination of information or images”, especially when social networks “constitute a main source of information”.
Those responsible for television news and information programs were urged to “avoid dramatization and dread in speeches”, not to avoid information which would “sow fear, dread and despair within the community. society, and the situation becomes even more difficult to deal with, ”adds the press release.
With these new directives, the country’s officials are trying to extinguish the fire of criticism and save their image internationally, but this will not be enough to calm the anger and dismay of Algerians who denounce the inaction of the authorities, their reaction too late when scientists warned on numerous occasions that the situation would deteriorate if emergency measures were not taken.
Calls that were completely ignored by the Algerian president, now silent, he who was treated abroad, leaving his country’s hospitals unable to handle the influx of new serious cases because they were not prepared and not having the technical means to deal with an epidemic situation.