October 26 – November 1, 2020 | Morocco Press Review

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November 1, 2020

Morocco: a real false reconfinement

The Moroccan government denied this Sunday, November 1, 2020, a false press release attributed to the Prime Minister announcing the reconfinement of the country.

In a statement, the head of government, Saad Dine El Otmani, also denies the holding of a Council of Government to approve the restoration of quarantine throughout the Kingdom from Monday, November 2, 2020. “All this is false and baseless,” the statement said. “Some people conveyed a false communiqué claiming the holding this Sunday morning of a government council for the adoption of a reconfinement at the level of the entire territory of the Kingdom. All this is devoid of any foundation,” the head of government said in a statement.

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

COVID-19: In Morocco, people marry less but divorce more, here’s why

Many couples had no idea that confinement would damage their relationship. When forced to stay together more than usual, many of them suffered as a result. This sheds light on a societal problem of great acuity, born of “forced holidays” because of the pandemic.

The pandemic has created a climate of terror and anxiety. Then followed the confinement that limited the freedom of husbands and wives. While they were free to move around and with roles that belonged to everyone, they suddenly found themselves between four walls, with children and sometimes family”, Dr Guessous explains.

Added to this is the lack of resources, distance working for some and especially distance learning for children, with all that this implies in terms of resources, as many families don’t have enough smartphones or computers to offer all their children so that they can follow their courses, which explains the tensions within the couples.

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

With resuscitation services overwhelmed, Casablanca close to reconfinement

In Casablanca, the occupancy rate of the COVID-19 resuscitation units is 55%, while the critical threshold is 65%. A worrying figure which argues in favour of reconfinement according to several specialists in the medical profession.

[…] In Casablanca, the intensive care units dedicated to COVID-19 patients work almost on a just-in-time basis. According to the latest official figures from the Ministry of Health as at 31 October 2020, the total number of severe or critical cases of COVID-19 is 814 (i.e. 37 new cases in 24 hours), of which 69 are under intubation and 468 under non-invasive ventilation. Thus, the occupancy rate of resuscitation beds dedicated to COVID-19 at the national level is 35.3%.

This rate is 55% in Casablanca, reports Dr. Abdelilah Boutaleb, secretary general of the Ministry of Health during a webinar organized last Sunday by the National Health Federation (FNS) and the Moroccan Society of Medical Sciences (SMSM), in collaboration with the Ministry of Health among others. The COVID-19 resuscitation services of the white city are therefore close to the critical threshold of occupation which is determined at 65%.

The economic capital is in the middle of a period of “community transmission”, indicated the DG of the CHU, confirming the words of the wali of the Casablanca-Settat region. A period when it is important to maintain the focus on two main objectives: to continue regular care for non-VIDOC-19 patients and to reduce mortality due to VIDOC-19. This second objective includes a reduction in the mobility of people and the early management of patients to avoid their arrival in the intensive care unit.

“We are at nearly 25% of patient deaths that occur within minutes and a few hours of their arrival in the emergency department of Casablanca University Hospital. And sometimes we don’t have the time to transfer them to the services for their care,” illustrated Prof. Afif.

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

Morocco loses its investment grade because of COVID-19

Morocco has been downgraded in terms of investment quality by the international rating agency Fitch. The Kingdom’s rating has been downgraded from BBB- to BB+ .

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the Moroccan economy, as well as on public and external finances justifies this rating, which was based on “the fall in budget revenue and the contraction of GDP combined with a mechanical increase in public debt, not forgetting the impact on the current account”. Fitch forecasts a budget deficit reaching 7.9% of GDP in 2020 and 6.5% in 2021, against 4.1% (excluding privatisation receipts) in 2019.

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

Fake news on reconfinement in Morocco: the BNPJ in Casablanca in charge of opening an investigation

The National Brigade of the Judicial Police (BNPJ) in Casablanca has been charged with opening an investigation into the ins and outs of the false statement conveyed, and which claimed the holding this Sunday of a Council of Government devoted to the approval of a total reconfinement throughout the territory of the Kingdom to deal with the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), from Monday, November 2, 2020, announced the Attorney General of the King at the Rabat Court of Appeal.

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

October 31, 2020

Five laboratories are no longer authorised to carry out COVID-19 tests

The withdrawal of the COVID-19 licence for these laboratories took place following the control carried out by the commission made up of members of the National Institute of Hygiene (INH) and the Ministry of Health, reports La Vie éco in its October 30th edition. A decision that chilled several biologists in the sector, the weekly continues.

The kingdom currently has thirty laboratories authorised on the basis of the specifications drawn up by the supervisory ministry, which define the requirements for carrying out the COVID-19 diagnosis by qRT pCR. As a reminder, the reference price for a PCR test in a private laboratory is 680 DH.

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

October 30, 2020

After a trip to Morocco, Ahmad Ahmad tested positive for COVID-19

Back from a trip to Morocco, the president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) tested positive for coronavirus. All those who have been in contact with him, particularly in Morocco, will have to comply with the necessary sanitary measures.

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

COVID-19 in Morocco: Wearing a mask is disputed, an expert explains

[…] Numerous testimonials, collected by Le Site info, mention dermatological diseases that have appeared in the mouth, sometimes with the appearance of skin lesions. Other citizens suffer from respiratory problems when wearing a mask. And this even if they are neither asthmatic nor have a chronic disease, such as COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).

The director of the virology laboratory at the Hassan II University in Casablanca provides some answers to this question that is on the minds of citizens. For Mustapha Naji, several people wear the mask for long hours and no side effects have been observed in them. The same diagnosis also concerns the medical and paramedical staff who, because of their profession, wear their masks for long periods of time, he stressed.

And some citizens who cannot tolerate wearing the mask for long periods of time, or who do not know the appropriate and advisable way to position their masks, may experience some difficulties, Mustapha Naji warned. And he added that the psychological factor can also contribute to create this discomfort felt and expressed by many people.

As a reminder, failure to wear a protective mask in Morocco is punishable by a fine, varying between 300 and 1300 DH, or a prison sentence of one to three months.

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

October 29, 2020

COVID-19 in Morocco: contamination could explode with Eid Al Mawlid

The Eid Al Mawlid festival, which coincides with the school holidays, can cause an explosion of cases of COVID-19 contamination. According to Tayeb Hamdi, a health policy researcher, Moroccans could be subjected to “lighter containment”.

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

Mohamed Melehi loses his fight against COVID-19

The world of modern art in Morocco and far beyond loses one of its founding fathers. Mohamed Melehi plunged into an artificial coma last Sunday, following a contamination with COVID-19, died this Wednesday, October 28 at the Ambroise Paré University Hospital in Paris at the age of 84.

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

COVID-19: MALI creates a donation box for safe abortion for women

In order to “protect girls and women through safe abortion”, the Alternative Movement for Individual Liberties (MALI) has created a solidarty boy to call for solidarity.

[…] The Moroccan Penal Code provides for penalties of up to 2 years in prison for a woman who performs an abortion, 1 to 5 years for anyone who performs an abortion on another person, 10 to 20 years if the patient dies and up to 30 years if the offence is repeated.

“Within MALI, we have been fighting for sexual and reproductive rights from the beginning. But regarding the decriminalisation of abortion and the fight for safe abortion, this started in 2012 with the big action in collaboration with Women on Waves. Since then, we have organised campaigns and helped women with abortion pills. But it was getting harder and harder from 2018 because the drug was no longer sold,” Ibtissame Lachgar, a Moroccan human rights activist and feminist who co-founded the MALI movement, told Hespress.

After the ban on the sale of the drug, MALI had to find another way to obtain it, the activist said, despite the fact that it is a small group positioned only in Rabat, and therefore “help women wishing to have an abortion, many of whom live in the countryside.

The latter are the first victims of unsafe abortions, according to the activist, who insists that “people need to know that the right to abortion is both a public health issue and a social justice issue”.

The MALI movement received a lot of messages from women, says Ibtissame Lachgar, but logistics made it virtually impossible to communicate with them.

“The crisis due to VIDOC-19 was like a dead end and a failure for us as feminist activists,” says the activist, noting that this is how the idea of creating a donation boy to help these women came about.

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COVID-19: Death of Driss Ouhab, former 2M journalist

After a remarkable course at the Higher Institute of Journalism (now ISIC), he was part of the team that launched 2M in 1989, alongside a new generation of journalists who would later leave their mark on the Moroccan audiovisual landscape.

He distinguished himself by his strong on-air presence and his special style in presenting the news bulletin, before trying his hand at sports commentary and then ending his career behind the microphone of Radio 2M.

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

October 28, 2020

COVID-19 in Morocco: the private sector is called for rescue

Faced with the increase in the number of cases of coronavirus contamination in Casablanca, the authorities are considering calling on private sector personnel.

The news is announced by Said Ahmidouch, the wali of the Casablanca-Settat region, who announces that an agreement with the private sector in this direction will be signed very soon. This agreement, explains Al Massae, will make it possible to mobilise private medical personnel to support the public sector, which is currently overwhelmed by the worsening health situation in the metropolis. It will be in return for an exceptional indemnity, adds the same source.

Initially, this operation will concern anaesthetists and emergency doctors who will be in great demand for on-call duty in public establishments. Then, the operation will be extended to nurses and doctors specialising in respiratory and heart diseases, the Arabic-speaking daily informs us, adding that it will be a symbolic indemnity, given that the health professionals concerned have already indicated their willingness to support the public sector at a time when solidarity among all health practitioners is being called for. It should be remembered that only a third of the Kingdom’s doctors currently operate in the public sector, hence the inevitable recourse to the private sector.

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

Morocco decides to introduce COVID rapid antigenic tests

An evaluation of three different antigenic tests is underway at the Pasteur Institute in Casablanca at the request of Minister Khalid Aït Taleb.

Several international laboratories are producing rapid antigenic tests against COVID-19. Morocco has pre-selected three tests that it is currently evaluating, confirms the Pasteur Institute in Casablanca. The evaluation consists of checking the sensitivity and specificity of each test on samples of “sufficient” size from the Moroccan population.

The objective is to determine in the Moroccan population to what extent this test is sensitive to the presence of antigens and to what extent it is specific (to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus). According to the WHO, antigenic tests must have a sensitivity of at least 80% and a specificity of at least 99%.

The result is delivered after 15 to 20 minutes. The result is easy to obtain and is carried out by a laboratory technician or nurse. On the other hand, the sample is in all cases tested in Morocco, naso-pharyngeal, identical to the sample for PCR testing.

The decision to introduce rapid antigenic tests is all the more relevant as Morocco is currently in a phase of active circulation of the virus in several cities or regions and is preparing for the winter wave that the WHO predicts will probably be very strong in the northern hemisphere. This recourse to rapid natigenic tests has also been called for in recent weeks by learned societies and in particular the Moroccan Society of Medical Sciences.

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

Bakeries: a day without bread in Morocco?

Bakers and pastry chefs are brooding . Tremendously impacted by the crisis linked to COVID-19, the professionals, who say they have been forgotten by the supervisory authority, no longer have any visibility on their activities. Can we expect a day without bread in the coming weeks?

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

Morocco passes the 200,000 confirmed cases mark

Morocco recorded on Tuesday 3,988 new cases of infection with COVID-19, bringing the total to 203,733 confirmed cases, announced the Ministry of Health.

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

COVID-19: Debate in Rabat on the responsibility of the employer towards employees and vice versa

Rabat – The theme “Employer/Employee: what responsibility in the face of the COVID-19 crisis” was at the centre of a round table held on Tuesday in Rabat, on the initiative of the Association of Human Resources Managers and Trainers (AGEF Centre).

Organized in partnership with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, this meeting addressed many issues including the responsibilities of the company on the social and societal level (health, sociological, economic, solidarity …), the management of new behaviours of employees in the face of prevention measures and the risk of contamination, ways to maintain the commitment and motivation of employees in this difficult context and the role that social partners can play in the management of this phase.

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

October 27, 2020

Gender Report: COVID-19 deepens gender inequality

The impact of the coronavirus that strikes Moroccan women is harsh. Already confronted with underemployment, precarious employment and low wages, women are still suffering the full impact of the health crisis. This crisis has just been “added to an already unfavourable situation in terms of gender equity”, notes the report on the results taking into account the gender aspect, accompanying the draft finance law 2021. The disparities observed are widening even more, even though they have reached an alarming level: the female employment rate is less than 22% compared to 71%.

However, their low level of mobilization results in enormous losses for the national economy, the report concedes. According to a recent analysis by the Directorate of Studies and Financial Forecasting (DEPF), the estimated gains generated by a reduction in gender gaps in terms of access to work reveal that a quarter of the difference between men and women would lead to an increase in per capita production of between 5.7 and 9.9%. This depends on whether measures related to the reduction of inequalities in the labour market are applied or whether measures including socio-educational inequalities are adopted.

In the meantime, the situation created by the pandemic is more than worrying. Its effects could have profound and lasting consequences. This raises the inescapable question: what is the response for gender-sensitive crisis management? Like several countries, Morocco has taken measures to support the entrepreneurial fabric, targeting the maintenance of employment and household purchasing power. Around 6 million people have benefited from these measures, 23% of whom are women. However, the recovery of the economic situation is likely to take a long time. And inequalities will increase even more.

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

Wastewater analysis: new anti-VIDO-19 protocol adopted

On instructions from the Ministry of the Interior, local authorities are preparing to adopt a new protocol to control the spread of the coronavirus. This operation will start in the coming days and will involve several cities in the Kingdom.

The Minister Delegate at the Ministry of the Interior announced the adoption of this new protocol during his speech in the Hemicycle on Monday 26 October. Noureddine Boutayeb thus specified that samples of waste water will be analysed and will make it possible to detect traces of the virus.

This protocol had been adopted after an American study which ensured that it is possible to detect the DNA of COVID-19 in waste water. The said study stressed that this scientific approach makes it possible to control the spread of the virus within a neighbourhood or even a city or region. But only if the samples are taken near places where there have been outbreaks and depending on the temperature of the wastewater to be tested.

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

COVID-19: The risk of a deadly winter hangs over Morocco

The authorities are worried as the winter season approaches. Their fear is the increase in cases of contamination, serious cases requiring resuscitation and deaths. Professionals predict a deadly winter if the situation remains as it is today.

With the start of the autumn season, the numbers have already risen, but the situation is likely to worsen with the arrival of winter. This is precisely what Dr. Tayeb Hamdi, a doctor, researcher in health policy and systems and vice-president of the National Health Federation (NHF), tells us.

“The winter season will be difficult on the COVID front, and the difficulty will be compounded by the seasonal flu,” he explains. “With what is happening in Europe, we are seeing that the speed of spread of the virus increases in winter. Moreover, this has surprised everyone. And even in Morocco the figures are already on the rise”. “For the flu, you never know if the season will be more serious than the previous one or not. So when we talk about the difficult situation with the approach of winter, it essentially concerns COVID,” insists our interlocutor.

According to Dr. Hamdi, the winter season will include part of November, December, January, and February. “We will see the development of seasonal flu and the arrival of the second wave of COVID. Next week we’ll be going into the second wave full steam ahead and we’ll see an increase in the numbers,” he warns.

According to Dr. Tayeb Hamdi, mortality due to COVID for the next three months (November, December and January) will be 1,800, 4,500 and 8,000 deaths respectively. And as many in February. “The figures refer to each month separately, not cumulatively. With the projection to end this month of October with a cumulative total of 3,500 deaths, the total number of deaths as of 31 January 2021 would be around 18,000 lives lost, if we let the situation evolve as it is now,” he explains.

[…] On a national level, Morocco has 2,300 equipped resuscitation beds (compared to 695 beds at the beginning of the epidemic). This capacity is used up to 31.3%. It is the city of Casablanca which is under the most pressure and where the situation is the most critical. On Sunday 25 October, the Casablanca-Settat region accounted for 40% of cumulative cases nationwide, 27.8% of cumulative deaths since the beginning of the epidemic, 37.7% of active cases, 71.3% of patients admitted to intensive care, i.e. 530 cases out of 743. The saturation is not just due to the number of beds but also to the unavailable human resources. It is precisely to fill this gap that the wali of the region has called on health professionals in the private sector to come in to reinforce their colleagues in the public sector.

In any case, according to Dr. Hamdi, “whenever the population or the health system fails to contain the health situation, the arbitration of territorial measures must intervene to contain the spread of the virus through measures such as limiting circulation, partial or even total containment. For we cannot afford to leave the health system overwhelmed. And this arbitration must be regionalized and localized”.

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

Morocco: Rabbi Yossef Abdelhak died of coronavirus

Rabbi Yossef Abdelhak died from complications related to his coronavirus contamination, according to the Council of Jewish Communities in Morocco.

In a statement, the council recalled that the deceased was highly appreciated by the Jewish community of Morocco for his profound erudition, great piety and humility. Within this community, he is also respected as one of the great teachers of the Talmudic schools.

During his lifetime, Rabbi Yossef trained several generations of students, including Rabbi Moshe Amar, the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem. He is considered a master of exceptional knowledge, patient, generous and modest by his disciples. His departure is a great loss for the Moroccan Jewish community.

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

October 26, 2020

34 weeks of COVID-19 in Morocco: return of simulations and extension of forecasts

Summary and details about the evolution of COVID-19 in Morocco, testing, results and impact of Aid al-Adha at national, regional and provincial levels.

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

Reopening of classes in Morocco: parents still have questions

The pupils went back to school on Monday 5th October. Two weeks later, although everything seems to be under control, many parents still have questions.

The pupils went back to school on 5 October, not without apprehension for some of them. Two weeks later, although everything seems to be going well, parents’ opinions differ. For the most optimistic, the observation is simple. “The schools, in general, have kept their promises regarding the respect of barrier measures. The result is that we, as parents, are all reassured,” says Saâd Regragui, founder of the Yassamine Schools Parent Association in Casablanca.

Hard-hit by the economic crisis, many families can no longer enrol their children privately. As a result, the figures provided by the Minister of National Education, Vocational Training, Higher Education and Scientific Research, Saaid Amzazi, passing through the Second Chamber, indicate that more than 150,000 pupils have migrated to the public sector, i.e. 15% of all pupils enrolled in public schools. This is a huge job loss that is causing a gnashing of teeth in the ranks of private education. It is estimated at 48,000 people, not counting the loss of 1.5 MMDH. “In view of this continuing haemorrhage, we call on the government to review the curricula and timetables of students. The quality of the courses is at stake,” recommends the head of the National Confederation of Parents’ Associations, for whom a distribution and/or prioritisation of certain courses is necessary.

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