Algerians stranded under France lockdown arrive on last ferry
A final ferry from locked-down France arrived in Algeria on Thursday, repatriating some 1,700 nationals who had been stuck in Marseille due to travel restrictions to combat the novel coronavirus.
The ship moored at a secure dock in the capital Algiers, a port official told AFP, saying authorities would organise quarantine accommodation for the passengers.
The "Tariq Ibn Ziyad" was the last ship to leave France before the closure of maritime services with Algeria.
The crew will be quarantined on the ferry, while passenger vehicles will be requisitioned onboard until they have been disinfected, the official added.
Another Algerian ferry from Marseille arrived in the northwestern port of Oran on Wednesday with 648 passengers aboard.
They were taken to a nearby tourist complex for a 14-day quarantine.
President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has ordered the repatriation of thousands of Algerians left stranded as countries have closed borders and imposed movement restrictions to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.
All evacuees must be placed in quarantine upon arrival, the presidency said in a statement.
Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad had earlier in the week announced a suspension of all scheduled travel links with Europe from Thursday in a bid to rein in the spread of the illness.
Two more virus deaths were registered in Algeria on Thursday, the health ministry said, bringing to eight the number of fatalities from COVID-19 since the first case was registered in the country at the end of February.
The focus of Algeria's outbreak is the Blida region, near the capital, where a whole family was infected in connection with confirmed cases among Algerians who had visited from France for a wedding.
A total of 82 cases have been confirmed in Algeria, according to the health ministry. An 83rd case was detected in an Italian national, who has since returned to Italy.
© 2020 AFP