September 28- October 04, 2020 | Morocco Press Review

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October 04, 2020: 2044 new cases and 2394 cures this Sunday October 4

2,044 new cases of coronavirus infection (COVID-19) and 2,349 recoveries have been recorded in Morocco in the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry announced Sunday, bringing to 133,272 the number of confirmed cases in the Kingdom since the first case reported on March 2 and 111,036 the number of fully recovered people.

The number of deaths has risen to 2,330, with 37 new cases recorded in the last 24 hours, a lethality rate of 1.7%, according to the same source.

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

October 03, 2020: WHO approves second rapid antigenic test

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced the approval of a second rapid antigenic test against COVID-19 that gives results within 15 to 30 minutes.

“These tests are simple to use and provide reliable results in about 15 to 30 minutes, rather than hours or days, at a lower cost,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanon Ghebreyesus told a press conference in Geneva.

The UN agency also issued a call for expressions of interest on Friday for manufacturers of vaccines against COVID-19 to seek approval for their pre-qualification and/or inclusion on the emergency use list.

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

October 03, 2020: More than 1,000,000 deaths worldwide

The number of recovered persons is 24,093,104, of which 5,427,706 recoveries have been recorded in India, 4,324,676 in Brazil, 2,873,369 in the United States, 972,249 in Russia, 753,953 in Colombia, 695,645 in Peru and 633,806 in Mexico, the university details.

According to the German statistics portal Statista, which calculates the ratio of COVID-19 deaths per million inhabitants on the basis of figures from John Hopkins University, Peru has the highest ratio (1014.81) ahead of Belgium (877.51), Bolivia (704.74), Brazil (690.7), Chile (684.6) and Spain (669.21).

Morocco, which until the end of August had a ratio of 28.6, now has a ratio of 61.87 deaths per million inhabitants, ahead of Egypt (60.41), the United Arab Emirates (43.71), Algeria (41.23), Mauritania (36.56) and Tunisia (22.91), according to the portal in its latest update dated 2 October 2020.

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

October 03, 2020: A private campaign centre in Casablanca, a “first” in Morocco

A campaign centre for testing the new coronavirus (COVID-19) has just been set up in the heart of the popular Derb Sultan district in Casablanca, a “first” for the private sector on a national scale.
The centre, which is part of the Derb Sultan Medical Analysis Laboratory, has a surface area of almost 300 metres for taking samples from people wishing to undergo screening, which are then sent to the laboratory premises for PCR analyses.

This new structure, which aims to support the efforts made by the Ministry of Health, welcomes citizens from Monday to Friday from 7.30 am to 6.30 pm and on Saturdays until 12.30 pm, without prior appointment. The motto is simple: “first come, first served, each in turn”, in compliance with the barrier measures, essentially the wearing of masks and physical distancing.

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

October 02, 2020: Morocco relaxes entry conditions for incoming tourists

To help the tourism sector to recover quickly from the impact of COVID-19, Moroccan authorities decided Thursday to relax the conditions of entry to COVID-19 for international travellers.

From October 1, foreign visitors will have to present a negative PRC test passed within the last 72 hours instead of the 48 hours previously required before arriving in the country.

The validity of the COVID-19 PCR test has been extended to encourage incoming tourism, while serological testing is no longer required for foreign visitors to be allowed entry.

However, tourists must have a hotel reservation or an invitation from a Moroccan company before arriving in the Kingdom. These measures have been taken at the request of local travel and hotel professionals.

According to the National Observatory of Tourism, the coronavirus pandemic has cost Moroccan tourism around 2 billion dollars in lost revenue. The sector represents 7 pc of the GDP of the country and directly employs more than 500,000 people.

To enable the Moroccan tourism sector to bounce back, UK Black Diamond, a public relations agency, has been selected by the National Tourist Office to promote the Moroccan destination, focusing on its world class cuisine, desert accessibility, mountain hiking and golf.

The London-based agency will set up a programme of media and influencers visiting Morocco, as well as hosting a number of journalist and industry events.

The promotional campaign will focus on lesser-known destinations, such as the cities of Tangier, Rabat and Fez, as well as the seaside resort of Dakhla, the pearl of southern Morocco.

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

October 02, 2020: The bar of 20,000 active cases is crossed, including 451 in a serious condition.

Morocco passed the 20,000 active cases mark on Friday 2 October. With 2,521 COVID-19 positive cases recorded in 24 hours, Morocco now has 20,258 cases under treatment (15.76%), with a prevalence of 55.8 per 100,000 inhabitants. 451 are severe cases, 51 of which are under intubation.

As far as deaths are concerned, Morocco has recorded 34 new deaths due to COVID-19 in 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths since the start of the pandemic to 2,263. The fatality rate, as for him, remains stable this Friday, October 2, at 1.76%.

In detail, the deaths are distributed as follows: 9 in the Casablanca-Settat region all in Casablanca, 2 deaths in the Rabat-Salé-Kénitra region (1 in Kénitra, 1 in SKhirate-Témara), 7 deaths in the Marrakech-Safi region including 6 in Marrakech and 1 in Rehamna.

The Darâa-Tafilalet region has recorded 5 new deaths (2 in Errachidia, 1 in Ouarzazate, 1 in Zagora and 1 in Midelt) while the Oriental region has recorded 2 deaths (1 in Oujda-Angad, 1 in Berkane), 1 new death in the Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima region in the city of Larache.

As for the region of Beni Mellal-Khénifra, it recorded 5 new deaths (3 in Khénifra, 1 in Beni Mellal and 1 in Fquih Ben Salah), while the region of Fès-Meknès recorded 3 deaths (2 in Taza and 1 death in the city of Meknès).

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

October 01, 2020: Hundreds of Moroccans stranded in Sebta and Melilia return to Morocco

About 200 people left Melilia since 10:00 a.m. local time (08:00 GMT) on Wednesday and their transfer ended “shortly after 16:00 (14:00GMT). Everything went in order, respecting the safety distances and without any incident,” the prefecture said in a statement.

In order to give the Moroccan authorities time to test for COVID-19, another group of Moroccans will leave Melilia on Friday, he added.

“100 Moroccan women – 98 adults and two minors – have returned to their country” from Sebta, announced a spokesman for the prefecture of this other Spanish enclave in northern Morocco. Other groups will leave in the coming days, he continued without giving details.

In order to curb the spread of COVID-19, Morocco closed its borders in mid-March, leaving hundreds of its nationals stranded in Melilia and Sebta, enclaves that form the only European land border with Africa.

By May, a first group of 500 people had been able to return to Morocco from the two enclaves.

Due to the closure of the Moroccan borders, Spain cannot deport Moroccan migrants who entered Melilia or Sebta illegally.

Overcrowded migrant reception centres

At the beginning of September, the Council of Europe asked Spain to improve the situation of hundreds of migrants grouped together in “overcrowded” arenas in Melilia, where it was difficult to “respect the measures” for health security, according to Dunja Mijatovic, the organisation’s Commissioner for Human Rights.

Several NGOs, including the Spanish Commission for Refugee Aid (CEAR), have contacted the Spanish Ombudsman to denounce this situation.

These arenas are a place “that has not been built to house people, with temporary infrastructures, few toilets and no adapted facilities. There are women, children, the elderly, people of different nationalities”, Laura Serrano, head of the CEAR in Melilia, told AFP.

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

October 01,2020: COVID-19 mobile screening unit travels around the city

A mobile medicalised screening unit of COVID-19 is criss-crossing the districts of the city of Fez, on the initiative of the Prefectural Health Delegation.

Organised under the supervision of the Regional Health Directorate (DRS) Fez-Meknes and in coordination with the local authorities, this unit made a stopover, from 28 September to 1 October, in the district of Sais, with the aim of reaching the population in the health centres of Aouinat El Hajjaj, Riad Sais, Narjiss, and Mont Fleuri.

This campaign aims to detect and treat people suffering from COVID-19 among vulnerable populations with risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma.

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

September 30, 2020: COVID19 vaccine – update on clinical trials in Morocco

Morocco is strongly committed to the search for the anti-COVID-19 vaccine by participating in clinical trials involving 600 volunteers. What is the status of these clinical trials?

Last week, the kingdom signed agreements with two Chinese and British-Swedish laboratories so that Moroccans can benefit from the vaccination as soon as the clinical trials are completed.

“This is the first time in the history of Morocco that vaccine clinical trials are being carried out. This process allows a transfer of expertise, (…) to have a clear heart on the safety and efficacy of the product (…) and to enter into a lasting partnership,” Health Minister Khalid Ait Taleb said Tuesday, September 29 on Radio 2M.

To conclude on the effectiveness of a vaccine, several steps must be validated. In an interview for Le Matin, Prof. Marhoum, head of the infectious diseases department of Casablanca University Hospital, sheds light on the progress of these clinical trials which in Morocco are in phase III and involve 600 volunteers.

Before reaching phase III, it was necessary to validate a pre-clinical stage during which tests are carried out on animals and a clinical phase during which the tolerance of the organism to the product is tested and then quantified, explains the specialist.

Phase III clinical trials normally require a large number of testers (several thousand). Morocco currently has only 600 at present, whose condition is being analysed until the final result is available. For the moment, no serious side effects have been reported. The kingdom lacks voluntary testers, but the main thing is to validate the Chinese part and guarantee the reliability of the results,” reads Le Matin.

The volunteers are divided into two groups: in the first, the real vaccine is tested on the volunteers; in the second, they receive only the placebo, a substance without any active ingredient, but which can have a beneficial psychological effect on the patient.

Moreover, these volunteers receive no compensation other than reimbursement of travel expenses or compensation for the costs of these clinical trials.

Specialists have been trained to supervise these clinical trials at the Ibn Rochd University Hospital in Casablanca, the Ibn Sina University Hospital in Rabat and the military hospital in the same city (200 volunteers per facility).

As a reminder, the Minister of Health, Khalid Ait Taleb, signed a memorandum of understanding on 18 September in Rabat for the acquisition of anti-COVID 19 vaccines produced by the company “R-Pharm”, under licence from the “AstraZeneca” group.

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

September 29, 2020: Extension of restrictive measures in this province of Morocco

The provincial authorities in Jerada have decided to extend until October 6 the restrictive measures taken on September 22 for one week in order to stop the spread of the pandemic of the new coronavirus (COVID-19).

On the basis of daily monitoring of the epidemiological situation at the provincial level, marked by a remarkable increase in the number of contaminations, and the recommendations of the meeting of the provincial vigilance committee held Monday, it was decided to extend for a renewable week (until October 6 at 18H), the application of exceptional anti-COVID measures put in place during the period from September 22 to September 29, the provincial authorities said in a statement.

These measures concern the imposition of an exceptional permit to travel to and from the city of Jerada, issued by the competent authorities, the prohibition of gatherings in public spaces, as well as parties, wedding ceremonies, funerals and family reunions.

It also includes the closure of gaming halls, sports halls, local fields and public parks, in addition to the closure of shops, cafés, restaurants and snack bars at 10 pm and the reduction of the capacity of public transport (taxis and buses) to 50 pc.

The communiqué also emphasises the strict control of travel to and from the city of Jerada, and the total respect for the wearing of masks and social distancing, with the repression of all those who violate the health prevention measures, in accordance with the legal provisions in force.

It was also decided to maintain the partial closure of the “Al Mjahaz” and “Oulad Sidi Ali” districts of Jerada, which are still epidemic outbreaks, in addition to the partial closure of the “Al Massira” district, and to take a series of exceptional measures to prohibit movement to and from the three districts affected by the closure, except for professional, humanitarian or health purposes.

The press release also announces the closure of the hammams, hairdressing salons and sports halls located in these three districts, and the closure of shops, restaurants and snack bars at 8pm.

All of the above measures remain in force for one week and could be extended depending on the evolution of the epidemiological situation and its evaluation by the provincial vigilance committee, the press release insists.

Moreover, these same measures could be applied in the different localities of the province depending on the epidemiological situation, it is noted, while stressing the possibility of lifting these restrictions depending on the improvement of the indicators related to this pandemic.

Finally, while reiterating the ban on celebrations, wedding ceremonies and family reunions that were at the root of the increase in the number of cases of coronavirus contamination, the provincial authorities invite all citizens to show vigilance and a spirit of shared responsibility, and to scrupulously respect the preventive measures that remain the only effective means of fighting COVID-19.

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

September 28, 2020: Generalisation of COVID-19 testing to all laboratories

In a new circular published on Saturday 26 September, the Minister of Health announced that “all medical biology laboratories can carry out molecular screening by qRT-PCR for SARS-CoV2 with or without serological tests”.

The circular thus announces the extension of the COVID-19 diagnostic network by laboratories, “provided that they meet all the requirements of the specifications in its second version (circular no. 72 of 12 September 2020)”.

And to explain that this measure comes within the framework of the “reinforcement of the network of molecular and serological diagnosis laboratories of COVID-19 and in order to make these tests accessible to Moroccans and foreigners and to ensure a wide coverage of the Moroccan territory”.

Thus, “medical biology laboratories wishing to join the network of COVIDlaboratories can download the latest version of the specifications on and formulate a request accompanied by the said specifications duly dated, signed and stamped with the mention “read and approved” against a receipt issued by the Regional Health Directorate to which they belong.

“The latter will communicate and keep the authorities concerned and the National Institute of Hygiene (INH) informed as and when the list of laboratories that have joined the said network is drawn up”, it is detailed.

These authorised laboratories are thus called upon to “declare all results to the health directorates/delegations within 24 hours of the samples being taken on the Ministry of Health’s IT platform”.

The document also specifies that “the activities of these private laboratories will be subject to unannounced checks coordinated by the INH in collaboration with regional health teams”.

On 12 September, the Ministry of Health updated the specifications for medical biology laboratories wishing to participate in the diagnostic network.

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