Algeria hospital staff near 'burnout' a year after first virus cases

Blida province has been one of the epicentres of Algeria's novel coronavirus outbreak, and was the site of the country's first cluster of infections.

FILE: Algeria has officially registered more than 115,400 coronavirus cases and over 3,000 deaths. Picture: 123rf.com

ALGIERS, Algeria - At a hospital near the Algerian capital, staff say they are "on the verge of burnout" more than a year on from the facility's first coronavirus-related admissions.

Blida province has been one of the epicentres of Algeria's novel coronavirus outbreak, and was the site of the country's first cluster of infections.

"We received our first patient, a woman, on February 29, 2020," Mohamed Yousfi, head of the infectious diseases department at the province's Boufarik hospital, told AFP.

The facility has since treated "with limited means" more than 4,000 people suffering from Covid-19, he said, lamenting that teams dealing with virus patients had been bolstered at other facilities but not his.

"There has never been a break," he said, and staff are "on the verge of burnout".

Beyond physical and mental exhaustion, he cited a heavy social toll for the medical workers.

"Many have not seen their loved ones for months because we are afraid for them," he said.

Algeria has officially registered more than 115,400 coronavirus cases and over 3,000 deaths.

Some 12,000 health workers have been infected and 160 have died, Yousfi said.

Medical personnel in the country have also been the target of aggression, leading the government to introduce legislation last summer to protect them.

Yousfi, who is head of infectious diseases for the country's central region, hailed the courage of medical teams and noted that women, including many mothers, made up more than 90 percent of the personnel.

He warned of the possible collateral damage to the pandemic revealing itself as the situation stabilises, citing "psychological consequences" as well as the deterioration of patients with some illnesses that were left untreated due to the health crisis.

Algeria launched its vaccination campaign in late January, but is still "in its infancy", according to Yousfi.

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