Algeria’s health ministry has approved the use of chloroquine in hospitals to treat patients infected with coronavirus.

The ministry in a statement specified that cholroquine should be used to treat “certain cases” of coronavirus in accordance with “specific medical protocol”.

Seventeen people have died of coronavirus (Covid-19) in Algeria, which currently has 230 cases of coronavirus, 54% of them in the province of Blida, south of the capital Algiers.

Chloroquine is one of the oldest and best-known anti-malarial drugs – though it is no longer recommended in much of Africa because of the resistance built up to it by the malaria parasites.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that so far there is no definitive evidence of its effectiveness when treating Covid-19, but it is part of the continuing trials.

In treating malaria patients, the drug has been used to reduce fever and inflammation.

Last week, there was confusion over whether the US had approved the drug to treat coronavirus. But the body licensing medicines in the US said it was still being considered.

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