01 – 07 June, 2020 | Press Review

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Photo: John S. sur Flickr

June 01, 2020: “Wiqaytna”, the contamination tracking application launched on Monday (Video)

This application is NOT COMPULSORY

The application allowing the tracing of COVID-19 contaminations was launched on Monday, according to a press release from the Moroccan Ministry of Health. The mobile application is now available on the platforms AppStore, Google Play and on the website www.wiqaytna.ma, adds the Ministry’s press release dated June 1st.

The application is part of the strengthening of the existing system for the management of contact cases, set up by the Ministry of Health, which has demonstrated its effectiveness, continues the Ministry.

“Wiqaytna,” IS NOT MANDATORY. Based on Bluetooth technology, the application will notify its users in case of prolonged physical proximity with another user who tests positive for Coronavirus within the last 21 days after contact. Following this notification, the Ministry of Health teams carry out an exposure risk assessment, and contact the notified case if necessary, as indicated from the same source.

In the absence of a vaccine or medicine for COVID-19, prevention and early screening becomes one the most important way to prevent the spread of the pandemic in Morocco.
In order to quickly diagnose people who may have the COVID-19 virus, the ministry of health launched a new app called “wiqayitna” (our prevention)
This app will let you know if you have been in contact with a person who was later diagnosed with COVID-19.
You can install the app from Google Play or Apple store.
After installing the app, activate your Bluetooth. Keep it activated.

Each time you pass by or meet someone who also uses the app, the app will register this encounter.
If few days later, the person that you have met is diagnosed with COVID-19 then the app will send you a notification that will tell you about prevention and protection measures that you must take.
The ministry of health will evaluate your case and contact you and take the appropriate measures.
Installing and using this app will help to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
it is NOT MANDATORY to install the application, but it may be a helpful tool to protect each other’s and prevent the virus from spreading further.
We would like to remind you that washing hands, putting a mask and keeping the necessary physical distance is the best way to protect ourselves from COVID-19.
For more information, please consult www.wiqaytna.ma
The Kingdom of Morocco

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

June 02, 2020: Resumption of electricity and water meter consumption readings (ONEE)

The National Office of Electricity and Drinking Water (ONEE) announced on Monday 1 June the resumption of the readings of electricity and drinking consumption meters, while ensuring compliance with health and safety measures in force.

This measure, which comes into force as of 1 June 2020, follows the gradual revival of certain activities and in view of the end of the containment period, according to a press release of the ONEE.

In order to support its customers, the ONEE had put in place, as of March 24, several measures to strengthen remote interactions with its customers via its customer relations centre and/or its website, adds the same source.

For more assistance or information, ONEE customers can contact the customer relations centre by telephone on 080 200 77 77 or by e-mail at crc@onee.ma or contact directly the agency located in their residential area, concludes the press release.

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

June 02, 2020: Towards 20,000 screening tests per day

The number of tests for Coronavirus is one of the determining factors in the fight against its spread. Prior to the lifting of the state of emergency on June 10, the Ministry of Health planned to reach the threshold of 20,000 tests per day.

Since the restart of economic activities, the number of screening tests carried out per day in various hospitals and laboratories in the kingdom has increased tenfold. According to sources at TelQuel Arabi, the Ministry of Health has set a target of 20,000 tests per day, as June 10, the date set for the lifting of the state of health emergency, approaches. The same source states that tests are being carried out at different actors active in the different sectors.

According to TelQuel Arabi, taxi drivers will be tested like 4000 fishermen in the region of Agadir who have all been tested. As a reminder, the testing was carried out in several companies that have resumed their activities, including public sector officials who are often in contact with citizens.

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

June 03, 2020, Private sector workers will be the subject of extensive COVID-19 testing

In order to limit the risk of spreading the new coronavirus in the corporate environment, during the recovery of activities in the various economic sectors, the COVID-19 screening campaign will be further expanded among private-sector employees. Under royal instruction, the initiative starts this Wednesday, in partnership with the Ministries of Health and Interior, as well as the General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises (CGEM).

According to the management responsible for coordinating the operation, this screening becomes a condition for the resumption or continuation of activities. To this end, the CGEM addressed its members to explain the interest of this initiative. In this sense, an interface has been created for companies wishing to register, in order to allow their employees to benefit from these tests.

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

June 03, 2020: The Ministry of Tourism finally unveils the health guidelines for operators

The Ministry of Tourism has just made public a collection of health security recommendations related to COVID-19 for the Moroccan tourist operators.

After weeks of waiting, the tourist operators have finally received the health protocol elaborated by the Ministry of Tourism to prepare the revival of the sector.

Qualified as a “compendium of health safety recommendations related to COVID-19”, this guide is intended for tourist accommodation establishments (EHT), tourist restaurants, travel agencies and tourist guides. The guide for the tourist transport sector is currently being produced.

These recommendations summarises the main health and safety measures that tourist operators should put in place to ensure a gradual and successful recovery. The aim is to work and provide quality services in a safe and healthy environment”, says the foreword of the document received by H24info.

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

June 03, 2020: The deconfinement strategy will be presented on June 11

The Government’s strategy for lifting the state of health emergency will be on the agenda of the monthly policy session to be held on 11 June in the House of Representatives.

It will not be until June 11th that the deconfinement strategy will be presented. At a meeting on June 2, 2020 attended by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Habib El Malki, and members of the Bureau of the House of Representatives, it was decided to hold the monthly question and answer session on general government policy on June,11. This decision, taken in agreement with the Head of Government, will enable the executive to present its “Government Plan for the lifting of the state of health emergency”, according to a statement by the House of Representatives.

With regard to the Chamber’s programme of action, the members of the Bureau stressed the importance of the meetings held by the standing committees last week and those scheduled for next week, which provided an opportunity for the committees concerned to discuss matters relating to the management by government departments of the state of health emergency and to learn about the measures undertaken.

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

June 04, 2020: Here is everything you need to know about the 100% Moroccan COVID-19 diagnostic kit

The Moroccan-designed COVID-19 diagnostic kit is 50% cheaper and faster. A first public order of 10,000 tests will be ready by June. Revelations of Nawal Chraibi, CEO of MAScIR.

Two days ago, the research and development centre MAScIR announced via a press release “the design of the first 100% Moroccan kit for COVID-19 diagnosis, tested and validated by the Royal Armed Forces, the Royal Gendarmerie and the Pasteur Institute of Paris.

It is RT-PCR diagnostic test “which has the characteristics of being specific, with a high degree of sensitivity and reliability and at a controlled cost”, says a press release from the research centre.

A new achievement of Moroccan researchers in these times of crisis. Médias24 sought to learn more about this diagnostic kit of Moroccan design, its performance and its specificities. The MAScIR centre’s biotechnology team is made up of 17 people, mainly researchers and engineers specialising in molecular and cell biology, molecular virology, biochemistry, molecular genetics and immunology”, explains Nawal Chraibi, Director General of MAScIR.

This team is working on two major lines of research which are the development of Molecular Diagnostic Kits for diseases prevalent in Morocco and Africa, whether infectious or cancerous diseases and the establishment of a platform for the development of biosimilars and biomedicines which are the future of the drug”

In the first area, the development of diagnostic kits, we have already developed kits to diagnose HER2-type breast cancer, hepatitis C, leukemia and tuberculosis. The dossiers for these kits are either submitted to the Ministry of Health to obtain marketing authorization or are in the process of being finalized for submission”, adds our contact person, who explains that the expertise developed in recent years in the development of kits has been used to help in the fight against COVID-19. 

“On March 12, as soon as the WHO qualified the COVID-19 epidemic as a pandemic, and building on this expertise in the development of molecular diagnostic kits, the medical biotechnology team at MAScIR took the initiative to make its contribution through the development of a test to detect the SARS -COVID-19 virus using the RT-PCR reference method”. It is important to specify that the test developed by the MAScIR centre does not fit into the category of rapid tests known as serological tests. It is a test based on the same analytical method currently used by the Ministry’s teams in the diagnosis of confirmed cases: the real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique. “It is a real-time PCR diagnostic kit for health professionals and used in laboratories,” insists the director of the research and development centre.

A first order of 10,000 tests ready by the end of June: There is every reason to believe that Morocco will no longer have to depend on diagnostic kits from other Countries. But this will happen in a second phase. For after development, which has certainly been fast, it takes some time to install large-scale industrialization. But this is indeed the ambition of MAScIR. “We have this will to increase in power and to meet the national and international need. Why not! The Pasteur Institute of Paris suggested that we register our Kit in France. This means that we can now benefit from a European label. We haven’t started the process yet, but we’re seriously thinking about it”, confides the general manager of MAScIR.

MAScIR is developing this kit via the startup Moldiag which it set up for the development of the kits. “At this stage Moldiag does not yet have a production as such because it does not yet have the necessary authorizations. Our other testing kits ( mentioned above) have been patented and validated internationally. They have been the subject of articles in indexed scientific journals, but we are still waiting for authorizations from the Ministry of Health for hepatitis C and Covid-19. For cancer and leukaemia kits, the files for obtaining AMM are being finalised”

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

June 04, 2020: King Mohammed VI extends the deadline for the CSMD final report to January 2021

King Mohammed VI has granted a further six months for the final presentation of the report of the Special Commission for the Development Model (SCDM).

As TelQuel indicated on 26 May, the report of the Special Commission for the Development Model will not be presented on time. In this sense, King Mohammed VI granted a new six-month deadline to the Commission to deliver the final report, i.e. until January 2021, at the latest.

On its Twitter account, the Commission states that the aim is to include a reflection on the national and international consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and to strengthen the Commission’s participatory approach.

Translation of the tweet: His Majesty King Mohammed VI, may God assist him, has kindly granted an extension of six months to the CSMD to integrate into its thoughts on the national and international consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and to strengthen the participatory approach of the commission.

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

June 05, 2020: Increase in violence against women during confinement (NGOs)

Several women’s rights NGOs revealed the considerable number of cases of violence against women and girls during the period of confinement, a phenomenon that increased by 130%, reported the Arabic-language newspaper Bayane Al Yaoum.

According to the Union de l’action féminine (UAF) and the network of relief centres, 76% of these acts of violence were committed by spouses.

In a preliminary report, the UAF points out, on the basis of the cases referred to it during the period of confinement, that contrary to the findings of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the number of cases of violence has increased considerably, in that some husbands have taken advantage of the emergency health measures to abuse and physically violate their wives, even leading to their eviction from the marital home.

The same source stated that women victims of violence are between 18 and 60 years of age, pointing out that three quarters of the cases of violence were recorded at home, a space supposed to be a haven of love and security and not a place of violence and cruelty that also affected children.

The UAF report also points out that 10% of cases of violence are also perpetrated by relatives such as brothers, fathers or sons.

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

June 06, 2020: COVID-19 tests: Masterlab contract overpriced in Morocco ?

The Ministry of Health spent 212 MDH for the purchase of 2 million serological tests from the American Abbott via the Moroccan firm Masterlab. The price of the IgG screening test was charged 99.5 DH per unit for a lot of 1 million. In France, this same test was sold by Abbott to a private laboratory for half the price, even though its order was 100 times smaller than that of Morocco.

Was the order for Abbott serological tests from Masterlab overcharged? In confirming on May 29th, the information revealed by our investigation published on May 26th concerning the award of a negotiated contract worth 212 MDH to the company Masterlab for the acquisition of 2 million serological tests for COVID-19, the Ministry of Health justified its cost by stating that “the purchase price of these tests is set by the company on a worldwide basis”, “These are the same prices paid by several European and Asian countries for the acquisition of quantities ranging from 6 to 10 million tests”, it stated.
The Ministry of Health affirmed in this respect, that it ensures “an exemplary application of all legal provisions, in order to properly manage the resources placed at its disposal”.

Inflated prices in Morocco? As a reminder, this contract composed of two distinct lots was awarded by mutual agreement to Masterlab under the following conditions:

  • Lot n°1 concerns 1 million IgG (immunoglobulin G) serological tests, (Architect SARS-CoV-2 IgG) ref. 06R86-22, developed by Abbott and of American and British origin, at a unit price excluding VAT of MAD 99.5 million.
  • Lot n°2 concerns 1 million rapid serological tests IgG (immunoglobulin G) /IgM (immunoglobulin M), (Panbio COVID 19 IgG/IgM), developed by Abbott and of Chinese origin, at a unit price excluding VAT of MAD 77, i.e. a total price of MAD 77 million.
    The total amount of the order thus reaches the sum of MAD211.8 million (including tax).

The total order amounts to MAD211.8 million (including tax).
However, the Desk was able to secure a French contract executed on May 5 between Abbott France SAS and the private medical analysis laboratory Alliance Anabio.

The purchase commitment by the customer stipulates the following terms:

  • 10,400 Architect SARS-Cov-2 IgG serological tests bearing the ref. 06R86-22 (i.e. the same product sold in Morocco) at a unit price excluding VAT of 5 euros, i.e. a total of 52,000 euros excluding VAT.

The test, which was purchased by Morocco at 99.5 DH, was invoiced at 5 € (approximately 50 DH, i.e. half less) for a quantity ordered 100 times less (10,400 tests instead of the one million in Morocco and not counting the second million of lot n°2).


How can such a price differential be explained when, in the French case, it concerns a private laboratory of modest size which, moreover, also benefited from the availability of the automaton used to carry out the tests? Why did Morocco not negotiate directly with Abbott for such a massive order? 

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

June 06, 2020: Sebta-the rise of COVID-19 contaminations hinders the repatriation of Moroccans

Morocco has temporarily suspended its repatriation operations for Moroccans stranded in the Sebta enclave. This suspension is explained by a rise in COVID-19 positive cases in the enclave. There are still 900 Moroccans in Ceuta waiting to return home.

The same sources consulted by the local media El Pueblo de Ceuta, suggest that “Morocco will not carry out any additional repatriation” and this as long as the epidemiological situation does not improve. The city still has 38 active cases, this Saturday, June 6.

But the epidemiological situation would not be the only cause behind this suspension. Indeed, other sources also close to the case refer to “the improvisation that is taking place on the Spanish side in this process”, referring to the local government’s messing up of the lists of returnees drawn up by Morocco.

Despite mutual agreement on the list of beneficiaries of these repatriation operations, the local government had seen fit to attempt to repatriate other nationals, often irregular migrants. After the Moroccan authorities discovered the situation, they even stopped the repatriation operation on 23 May, allowing only 28 people to be repatriated to Morocco.

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

June 06, 2020: In Casablanca, COVID-19 test for companies will cost 500 DH (PCR) and 100 DH/test (serological)

“The Sheikh Khalifa International University Hospital and the National Reference Laboratory of the Mohammed VI University of Health Sciences make available to companies wishing to carry out mass screening of their employees, their teams and their know-how to support them in this process”, announces a press release from the hospital.

Interested companies can benefit from a complete panel of COVID-19 screening tests, including reference PCR diagnosis and complementary serology. “Our service also includes all the logistics necessary for the smooth running of the screening and its reliability, including the travel to the companies’ premises of a duly qualified and experienced team under the supervision of a doctor,” promises the press release.

The hospital and the laboratory ensure that they have a solid experience in screening” with thousands of PCR tests carried out to date in partnership with the public authorities. These tests are carried out using state-of-the-art techniques and in the strictest compliance with quality standards and best practices and according to the best international standards”.

Here is the “single, transparent, cost price” pricing for screening tests, explained as follows:

  • PCR test: 500 DH per employee
  • Serological test: 100 Dh per employee

The companies wishing to benefit from our services must contact the dedicated email address : depistagecovid@hck.ma 

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

June 06, 2020: Private clinics are not authorised for testing COVID-19

The National Association of Private Clinics confirms in a press release that private clinics are not authorized to do COVID-19 tests

The Association underlines that since the beginning of the pandemic in Morocco, the Ministry of Health has specified the bodies authorized to provide the tests, namely national reference laboratories, university hospitals, military hospitals, semi-private hospitals and mobile laboratories under the Ministry.

Therefore, no private clinic can provide COVID-19 testing on citizens.

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

07 Juin, 2020: Plus de 17.500 tests de dépistage quotidiennement au Maroc

Casablanca – The number of screening tests for the pandemic of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) in Morocco has exceeded 17,500 per day in 24 national laboratories, Health Minister Khalid Ait Taleb announced on Sunday.

We started with 2,000 tests a day in three labs. Today, we have exceeded 17,500 tests per day, having gone from 3 to 24 national laboratories,” said Mr. Ait Taleb, who was speaking at a webinar for health professionals and the press.

The Minister specified that this performance “does not include military health and private sector laboratories, which have the necessary prevention and health safety conditions to carry out PCR tests”.

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

June 07, 2020: Will the Benmoussa commission, (Special Commission for the New Development Model) recover from the devastating tweet from the French Ambassador?

Ambassador Chakib Benmoussa is not about to forget the “service rendered” by his French counterpart, Hélène Le Gal. In a single tweet, certainly very awkward, she raised, beyond the diplomatic blunder, the question of the true scope of the CSMD, which was muted by the COVID-19 crisis and to which King Mohamed VI granted a six-month extension. Will the commission be able to cope with the consequences while its president is criticised in the press and on social networks?

A single, simple tweet from the French ambassador to Morocco will have done away with the image of the Special Commission on the New Development Model (CSMD), which has been skilfully refined since its installation.
On 5 June, the diplomat recently installed in Rabat used a tweet to thank her counterpart Chakib Benmoussa, the kingdom’s ambassador to Paris and president of the CSMD, for ‘presenting her with a progress report’ on its work. By way of conclusion, Le Gal added that in the future “very good prospects for the Franco-Moroccan economic pact are emerging”.

The buzz generated by the Tweet quickly turned into a media frenzy. Not even the laborious tweet in the form of an indirect response from the CSMD, specifying that there was indeed a meeting by videoconference, but at the diplomat’s request, could put out the fire.
“Neo-colonialism”, “disdainful tone”, “Benmoussa pledging allegiance to Macron”, the qualifiers did not fail to describe the message retained from the publication of Le Gal. Le Gal tweet reminded many of the scornful tone used by Emmanuel Macron at the beginning of COVID-19 crisis, asking the Moroccan authorities to act “as quickly as possible” for the repatriation of the Frenchmen blocked in Morocco, following the closure of the borders.

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