May 11 – 17, 2020 | Press Review

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Photo: John S. on Flickr

May 11, 2020: Adoption in commission of the draft law on travel contracts and tourist stays

The Productive Sectors Committee of the House of Representatives unanimously adopted, on Monday 11 May, the Bill 30-20 about special provisions for travel contracts, tourist stays and passenger air transport contracts, after making a series of amendments. Presenting the text, the Minister of Tourism, Handicrafts, Air Transport and Social Economy, Nadia Fettah Alaoui, highlighted the importance of the project and the urgency to adopt it given the impact of the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) on the tourism and air transport sector. The adoption of this bill shows the concern to save the companies of the sector threatened with bankruptcy, she noted, noting that the ministry tends to implement this legal mechanism in order to help travel agencies, tourism companies, tourism and air transport bosses facing financial and socio-economic difficulties.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 11, 2020: Morocco prevents the return of its nationals, a “global exception”

While the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs offered all the cooperation necessary to organize flights for foreigners staying in Morocco, it maintained a strict stance with its own nationals who were surprised by the closure of the border far from home, from Mexico to Russia. There are Moroccans stranded in Ukraine, the Dominican Republic, Senegal, Turkey, Spain or the United States, and their numbers seem to be steadily increasing: while on 23rd April Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita acknowledged before Parliament that there were 22,500 cases, the head of government Saâdeddine El Otmani raised this figure last week to 27,850. Moroccan embassies abroad have helped some of the most vulnerable people by paying for accommodation or meals, sometimes in cash. However this has not calmed those concerned, who simply claim that they can return to their country, even if they would have to undergo a period of quarantine.

They have formed WhatsApp groups, created Facebook pages and recorded an emotional video on YouTube entitled “Morocco’s forgotten people” in which students, mothers of babies or sick people regretted that their country took such a drastic step with their citizens when repatriations were carried out from all over the world, and called for a demonstration today outside Moroccan consulates. The participants in the demonstration shared photos of these actions in front of the consulates of Istanbul, Algeciras, Algiers or Paris, a city where the demonstrators were fined 135 euros each for braving the confinement, as one of the participants told EFE. Arab countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria or Lebanon, in addition to the oil monarchies of the Gulf, have carried out repatriation operations, which is why Morocco has become a kind of global exception.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 11, 2020: COVID-19 tracking application to remain voluntary

The Moroccan COVID-19 tracing application was named Wiqaytna (Our Protection). To calm concerns about the confidentiality of personal data, the Ministry of the Interior is rolling out its arguments.

The Ministry of the Interior in collaboration with the Ministry of Health is launching the test phase for the COVID-19 tracing application. Some of the OCP staff will serve as beta testers for the application before a general deployment. “Depending on the feedback, we will correct and improve the application for a launch to the general public,” said Abdelhak El Harrak, governor director of computer systems and communication at the Ministry of Interior, without specifying a provisional launch date on the store of iOS and Android applications. The Moroccan technological solution that will use Bluetooth is inspired by the Singaporean application, initially praised by several countries but which has recently caused controversy. TraceTogether is based on the open code of the Bluetrace protocol, which was then adopted by other countries such as Australia. If Abdelhak El Harrak acknowledges that Morocco has based itself on components of the Singaporean application, he says that Wiqaytna is designed and developed by Moroccan engineers thanks to the voluntary contribution of a dozen Moroccan companies and startups including OCP, Aio XLabs, Dial Technologies, Omnidata, Abweb, Valyans, …

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 15, 2020: First repatriation of Moroccans stranded in Melilla for about 40 days in Saidia and Nador.

As of 3 p.m. this Friday (Moroccan time), Moroccans temporarily stranded in Melilla have started their return to Morocco. After two months of blockade, they will come back to Morocco but will not be reunited with their loved ones right away, due to a period of preventive confinement.

Blocked in Melilla since the suspension of travel due to the pandemic of the new coronavirus, Moroccans temporarily staying in the Spanish enclave can finally hope for a return home. This Friday, some of them told Yabiladi that a first group, of nearly 200 women and children, is concerned as a priority. Having heard about this possibility, several young adults headed this morning towards the border with Beni Ensar, under the strong presence of the Guardia Civil,” said a Moroccan who has been stranded in Melilla since last March. A source in the regional authorities also confirmed to Yabiladi that at the border crossing between the two cities, buses have been mobilized to transport 25 passengers each, from 3 p.m. (Moroccan time) The total number of beneficiaries of repatriation would be around 500, the first phase of this Friday concerning the 200 most urgent cases, according to a list of names consulted by Yabiladi. But before being reunited with their relatives, these returnees will have to undergo tests for COVID-19. They will then be taken to Saïdia, Nador or Selouane, to observe a compulsory sanitary confinement in hotels and student accommodation centres, specially mobilised for this purpose, we are told. On the Moroccan side, this operation would be coordinated between the Ministries of the Interior, Health and Foreign Affairs.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 12, 2020: 40,000 masks offered to sub-Saharan migrants in Morocco

The association “Insaf” announced the launch, Monday in Casablanca, of an operation to distribute aid to sub-Saharan migrants that will last ten days, to help with the repercussions of the pandemic of the new coronavirus (COVID-19).
Some 4,000 packages have been prepared for migrants settled in the economic capital, the association said in a statement, stressing that for this operation, it has mobilized, in addition to food, 40,000 masks, donated by the company Soft, 4,000 liters of bleach to disinfect the masks donated by Mutandis, 8,000 soaps and 4,000 flyers to raise awareness against COVID-19.

“Insaf” (National Institute for Solidarity with Women in Distress) also reports that 4,500 new parcels will be prepared and handed over to the Cardinal Archbishop of Rabat, which will help a total of 8,500 sub-Saharan migrants.
Since last March, the association has redoubled its efforts by distributing some 110 tonnes of food in the form of 25 kg parcels of basic necessities.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 12, 2020: Up to 30% discount on car insurance premiums

The Moroccan Federation of Insurance and Reinsurance Companies (FMSAR) on Tuesday announced the decision to offer their customers with a car insurance a premium rebate, for an annual contract, of up to 30% of the two-month containment portion of the MTPL premium. This premium reduction corresponds to an exceptional readjustment induced by the drop in the loss ratio for this period, the Federation indicated in a press release, noting that this provision comes in addition to a set of measures taken by insurance companies to facilitate the daily life of customers and to lighten their financial burden in the face of the health crisis induced by COVID-19. Although the impact of the drop in the claims rate can only be assessed at the end of the current financial year, FMSAR members have decided to anticipate the measure and make it available to all their insured individuals regardless of the nature and category of their vehicles, the same source added, specifying that this premium rebate will be granted at the time of renewal between June 1, 2020 and May 31, 2021 on the sole condition that the vehicle has been insured for the duration of the containment”.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 13 , 2020: CNSS-April benefits to be paid starting Thursday

The National Social Security Fund (CNSS) will pay from this Thursday the lump sum compensation for the month of April to eligible employees impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a CNSS press release, this compensation will be paid via bank transfer for beneficiaries whose bank details are available to the CNSS. The other beneficiaries will be compensated by the Wafacash branch network after receiving the withdrawal code by SMS message or by post sent to the address provided by the CNSS. Interested parties may also receive this code through the insured portal, or by calling the voice mailbox on

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 13, 2020: Universities will open in September

Universities, grandes écoles and vocational training centres in Morocco will reopen in September. This is what Said Amzazi, Minister of National Education, Vocational Training, Higher Education and Scientific Research, said this morning before the members of the Education Commission in the House of Representatives. The minister added that this decision was taken to preserve the health of students and faculty. The institutions concerned will continue the distance learning courses in order to complete the pedagogical curriculum. Regarding the organization of examinations, the decision will be announced in the coming days.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 14, 2020: Recovery post COVID-19, Morocco SME covers 80% of the cost of support

An offer of advice and technical expertise to support the deployment of recovery plans is made available to industrial SMEs to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ministry of Industry, Trade, Green and Digital Economy is launching a consulting and technical expertise offer for industrial SMEs to help them manage the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare recovery plans for their activities. In a press release published by the Ministry of Industry, it is explained that the TPMEs can benefit, through Maroc PME, from a coverage of 80% of the cost of support by a specialized expertise in the development and deployment of their continuity and recovery plan. Interested companies are invited to complete the application form online at: .

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 14, 2020: Sub-Saharan migrants in Morocco undermined by anti-coronavirus measures

The state has provided aid for unemployed employees and informal sector workers who have lost their jobs, but no measures have been taken for immigrants.

Deprived of temporary jobs and with no access to state aid programmes for the most vulnerable, temporary migrants and sub-Saharan immigrants living in Morocco have been struggling to survive since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, despite the outpouring of solidarity. “Those who used to trade are confined, without financial resources, and the situation is getting worse for illegal immigrants living in camps: they can’t move around and NGOs can’t come to help them,” Ousmana Ba, president of the Collective of Sub-Saharan Communities in Morocco, told AFP.

There are “at least 20,000” migrants and immigrants, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, “in a situation of humanitarian emergency”, according to sociologist Mehdi Alioua, a founding member of the anti-racist Group for the Accompaniment and Defence of Foreigners and Migrants (Gadem). A large part of the sub-Saharan community works in the informal sector, which accounts for more than 20% of the kingdom’s GDP. Car keepers, cleaning women without contracts or traders without social security cover, they live from day to day, “are in panic” and “do not eat every day,” warns Mr. Alioua.
Fewer clandestine crossings: The most vulnerable are those who transit through Morocco in order to reach Europe by sea or by climbing the barriers surrounding the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in the north of the country. Border closures and travel restrictions due to the state of health emergency add to the difficulties of their journey. Although they have decreased since the start of the pandemic, illegal crossings into Spain continue, with 986 arrivals recorded between mid-March and early May, compared to 1,295 over the same period in 2019, according to the Spanish Ministry of the Interior.

Considered for a long time as a country of transit, Morocco has gradually become a host country. The migration policy adopted in 2013 has made it possible to regularise 50,000 people, mostly from West Africa, according to government figures. The number of illegal immigrants is estimated by NGOs at several thousand.

But whether they are in regular or irregular situations, all are suffering the effects of the economic paralysis caused by the pandemic. The “All the population suffers,” summarizes Ousmana Ba. “People don’t know what to do. People don’t know what to do. Those who weren’t saving have problems. They used to go out every day to get money and now they are in trouble,” says Lokake Aimée, Secretary General of the Sub-Saharan Migrants Council.

To stem the COVID-19 epidemic, Morocco (which officially has 6,512 cases of infection and 188 deaths) has imposed general containment throughout the country. The state of health emergency declared on 20 March was extended until 20th May. Controls are strict, movement is subject to authorization, and non-compliance with the restrictions is punishable by one to three months in prison and/or a fine.

Distribution of food baskets: The kingdom has provided financial assistance for unemployed employees and workers in the informal sector who have lost their jobs, but no measures have been taken for migrants and immigrants. Nor do regularised persons benefit from the aid distributed by the State, unlike Moroccans. “No one in the government has had a word for these people, even though Morocco has invested so much in its migration policy,” Alioua said.

Solidarity within the community, in the associative world and in Catholic parishes helps to lighten their burden. Abdoulaye Diop, president of the Federation of Sub-Saharan Associations in Morocco (Fasam), organizes food basket distributions to members of the Senegalese community. Other communities are carrying out similar actions, but the associations’ means are limited, he says.

“Today you eat rice, tomorrow pasta, the day after tomorrow rice…” sighs Eouani Mambia Morelline, a 40-year-old Congolese woman who chairs the Women’s Collective of Migrant Women in Morocco. “And then there are the bills, the rents that accumulate… and it remains to be seen when we will return to a normal life,” she adds.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 15, 2020: Is Morocco’s very low mortality rate enough to end the confinement on May 20?

The end of the lockdown period, initially planned for 20 May, seems to be moving away due to the regular appearance of new outbreaks of contamination. However, the case-fatality rate has fallen. Is trusting our care protocol enough to end the lockdown period? Since May 11, only two deaths due to COVID-19 have been recorded in Morocco. This is good news, but it is not accompanied by a drop in contamination. So what should we think?

Mortality rate and case-fatality rate: When analysing the data provided on a daily basis, it is important not to mix up two indicators which, contrary to what one might think, do not mean the same thing. First of all, the mortality rate. This refers to the percentage of deaths relative to the number of individuals in a given population in a given period. In Morocco, COVID-19 has caused 190 deaths since the beginning of the epidemic for a total population of 36,729,212 inhabitants, which means that the number of people who have died from the new coronavirus in Morocco represents approximately 5.17 deaths per 1,000,000 inhabitants. By way of comparison, France records a sad score of 408.93 deaths per 1,000,000 inhabitants. The mortality rate is not a meaningful indicator, but the case-fatality rate must be referred to in order to assess the dangerousness of a disease because this indicator does not refer to the whole population but only to the infected persons.

According to the “COVID-19 Pandemic by Country” page generated by Wikipedia and updated daily, the case-fatality rate varies greatly from country to country. In France it is 19.25%, in Belgium 16.29%, in the United Kingdom 14.39%, in Italy 13.97%, in the Netherlands 12.8%, in Sweden 12.15% and in Spain 11.81%. In the United States, the case-fatality rate is 6.01% and in Germany 4.47%. In regards the Maghreb countries, Algeria has a lethality rate of 8.49% and Tunisia of 4.36%.

In other words, Morocco (2.9%) actually ranks rather well in the world and the Maghreb. Although these numbers represent a considerable glimmer of hope, these figures should be read carefully. While the formula for calculating the case-fatality rate is the same from one country to another, the numerator, the number of deaths related to COVID-19, is not counted in the same way everywhere.

For example, in both France and the United Kingdom, only the number of COVID-19 deaths in hospitals was initially counted, then Ehpad deaths were added, and at present there is still some doubt about deaths at home. In Belgium non-tested but suspected persons are taken into account , while in Italy, deaths in retirement homes are not systematically taken into account.

In the case of Morocco, the number of deaths comes solely from hospitals. Are there any deaths that have not been recorded? It is probable, but impossible for the time being to say, let alone verify, that this is the case

For treatment used, the first-line of treatment in Morocco, hydroxychloroquine and azymicine, i.e. plaquenil and azithromycin or chloroquine and azithromycin are prescribed, explained Professor Jaâfar Heikel, epidemiologist and infectiologist, international expert and director general of the Vinci clinic in Casablanca which treats patients infected with COVID-19, in a previous interview.

However, the key to Morocco’s success is certainly due to something more. In this case, a complementary treatment based on corticosteroids, which Moroccan doctors administer to nearly one out of every two patients depending on their clinical condition, thus defying the reluctance of other countries to use anti-inflammatory drugs: the use of corticosteroid therapy.

For moFor more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 16, 2020: HCP study exposes different scenarios of deconfinement in Morocco

The Office of the High Commissioner for Planning (HCP) presents, in its study “Pandemic COVID-19 in the national context: Situation and scenarios”, several scenarios for deconfinement, including the following outlines and the full document. Here are the main scenarios for deconfinement of the pandemic of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) presented by the Office of the High Commissioner for Planning (HCP) in its recent study “Pandemic COVID-19 in the national context.

Natural evolution scenario: This scenario is a textbook case that assumes a natural evolution of the pandemic without any barrier extending to the majority of the population until possible herd immunity is acquired. This scenario would eventually result in the contamination of approximately 80% of the population.

Continued confinement scenario: This scenario prolongs the current situation all other things being equal, i.e. all measures already taken are maintained. The R0 reproduction number for this scenario and its parameters are estimated from actual observed data and are presented opposite. R0 is 0.76 (< 1), which means that the pandemic is decreasing and tending to disappear. The simulation of continued containment using the mathematical model used would have resulted in the following impacts: A total of 7800 cumulative infected cases by early July.

Entire population Deconfinement Scenario: This scenario considers the deconfinement of the entire population under 65 years of age without chronic disease (27.5 million). Once this population is deconfined, the number of contacts per day increases by a magnitude estimated by the model implemented of +64%, which would place the R0 at 1.248 assuming that self-protection measures are maintained. A simulation on this basis would result in the infection of 8% of the population in 100 days. The health system would be overwhelmed in 62 days with only a 10% hospitalization rate of active cases.

Broad deconfinement scenario: This scenario of deconfinement of the employed active population under 65 years of age and the population under 15 years of age without chronic disease (16.7 million) aims to open up the economy with a gradual return to social activities. It also assumes a number of 2000 active infected cases at the time of deconfinement. Under this scenarion, number of contacts per day of infected subjects will increase by 24% and consequently increase the number of infections bringing the R0 to 0.94 in the case of maintaining self-protection measures. The simulation would give in this situation 31,663 confirmed positive cases in 100 days with a peak of 3,200 active infected cases. This would result in a peak need for 3200 hospitalization beds (100% hospitalization), 160 intensive care beds (5% of active infected) and would lead to 1266 deaths (4% of cumulative infected).

Restricted Deconfinement Scenario: This scenario assumes the deconfinement of the population engaged in the economy represented here by the employed population under 65 years of age without chronic disease (7.9 million). It aims to open up the economy without compromising the population at high risk of developing complications from the disease. 2,000 active infected cases at the time of deconfinement are projected in this scenario. In this scenario, the number of contacts per day of infected individuals would increase by 13% with an R0 of 0.864 and therefore increase the number of infections, resulting in a level of 18,720 cumulative positive confirmed cases in 100 days with a peak of 3,200 active infected cases. This would result in a maximum need for 3200 hospitalization beds (100% hospitalization of active infected persons), 160 intensive care beds (5% of active infected persons) and 748 deaths (4% of cumulative infected persons).

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 16, 2020: The first equipped mobile laboratory will soon be operational

The Department of Health is moving to a new phase in its fight against COVID-19. A first mobile laboratory was equipped on Saturday, May 16, in collaboration with the National Institute of Health, we learn from the Ministry. This mobile laboratory, which reinforces the current screening offer, will soon be operational, the same source says, pointing out that the first tests will be carried out on the evening of this Saturday. Rather in the daytime and in another register, the Ministry of Health had announced, through a press release, to work closely with car manufacturers, to protect the health of their employees and ensure the sustainability of their companies. During the period of cessation of production activities, a set of health measures and protocols have been deployed and reinforced in all production sites in Morocco that are the Renault sites in Tangier, Somaca Casablanca and PSA Kenitra, says the press release.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 17, 2020: The hidden face of the Moroccan who must develop a vaccine against COVID-19

Since he was appointed by U.S. President Donald Trump as scientific director of Operation Warp Speed, a groundbreaking effort to prepare a vaccine against COVID-19 “very quickly”, many have questioned Moncef Slaoui’s real identity. Who is this eminent molecular biologist? What are his links and ties with Morocco? What are his ambitions for his country?

On Wednesday 13 May, most Moroccans discovered that a Moroccan living in the United States had been called upon to lead President Donald Trump’s effort to develop a coronavirus vaccine. The information reported that day by the American media, quoting White House officials, was quickly picked up by the Moroccan electronic press and social networks. Since then, many have also questioned the real identity of this eminent molecular biologist. Who is really Moncef Slaoui? How else can we explain that this leading figure in the field of health research and development is not very well known in his country? It must be said that one of the rare public appearances of Moncef Slaoui in Morocco dates back to Tuesday, May 16, 2017. He was the guest star of the British Chamber of Commerce in Morocco to speak in an edition of the BritCham Conference cycle under the theme: “The Morocco Hub of Innovation and R&D: What prospects and key success factors? Focus on the British model”. As an announcement of the event, the British Chamber of Commerce in Morocco had not hesitated to communicate that it received a world-renowned personality, “ranked among the 50 people who change the world, by the American magazine Fortune in 2016”. At the time, Dr Moncef Slaoui was President of GSK Vaccines World, Member of its Executive Board, and President of Galvani Biolelectronics.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 17, 2020: Body of a young Moroccan woman found in a public toilet in Melilla

Two months ago, Hakima, 34, from the town of Driouich, moved to the occupied city of Melilla to find a job, however, her move coincided with the start and the spread of the coronavirus in Spain. Spanish police found a lifeless body of the young Moroccan woman, who died in mysterious circumstances, in a public toilet near Melilla’s famous bullring square, where Spanish authorities plan to bury her in the Muslim cemetery, according to Europapress. For her part, the mother of the deceased is appealing to the Moroccan authorities to repatriate her daughter’s body and bury her in her home town.” I would like to feel my daughter’s smell one last time … I would like to bury my daughter myself,” the mother of the young woman, who herself used to work in Melilla, told Hespress.

The autopsy carried out on the young woman’s body at the Melilla Regional Hospital did not reveal any physical violence, pointing out that her death could have been caused by a stroke. It was noted that about 500 Moroccan citizens remained stranded in the city of Melilla after the closure of border crossings in March. The Moroccan authorities repatriated 200 of them on Friday, with more to follow in the coming days.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 17, 2020: One positive case among Moroccan returnees from Melilla

A positive case of COVID-19 was identified among a Moroccan returnee from Melilla. The remaining individuals who tested negative will be retested in a few days to rule out infection.

A Moroccan man among the returnees from Melilla on Friday was diagnosed positive for the new coronavirus, after a first test showed he was infected, although he shows no symptoms. According to sources contacted by Yabiladi in Saidia, a city that houses some of the returnees, the man is originally from Taourirt. His state of health is stable but he will have to remain under medical observation, as he is awaiting a second analysis. Contacted by Yabiladi this Sunday, the president of the municipality of Nador, Rafiq Moujait, confirmed the positive case but indicated that all the first tests of the other returnees were negative. “The latter are also waiting for a second one in the next two or three days to see how their state of health evolves in relation to a possible infection,” he told us. Since the announcement of the case, the Spanish media have reported that instructions have been given to suspend repatriation “until further notice”.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.