17 – 23 November, 2020 | Morocco Press Review

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November 23, 2020

2,888 stations and mobile units: the anti-COVID-19 vaccination plan planned by Morocco

No fewer than 2,888 vaccination stations will be deployed in all regions of the country to accommodate the target population, which will receive two doses of anti-COVID19 injection, with priority, over a 12-week period, being given to frontliners and vulnerable people. Mobile units will also go around cities , visiting hospitals, industrial units, penitentiary centres, university campuses, etc. The long-term objective is to cover 25 million individuals. Health Minister Khaled Ait Taleb announced Monday in Rabat the implementation of a national vaccination strategy against COVID-19 in all regions of the Kingdom.

Among the measures included in the development of a national vaccination strategy against the coronavirus for all regions, targeting a large part of the population with priority to frontliners, namely health professionals, teachers, security personnel as well as the elderly and those suffering from chronic diseases, knowing that this operation will be spread over 12 weeks, said Ait Taleb during the weekly oral question session in the House of Representatives. The vaccination will take place in two stages, with two injections for the two doses spaced 21 days apart.

The minister also indicated that the authorities are currently equipping 2,880 vaccination stations whose acquisition operation, already under way, will consist logistically in deploying equipment and human resources (about 6,000 health workers will be mobilized) undergoing training in the region before the actual launch of the vaccination operation.

The final objective is to vaccinate a maximum of 18-year-olds, i.e. 25 million souls in two stages, i.e. 50 million or more injections, in order to achieve immunisation of the population.

To this end, central commissions have been set up to prepare all the documents and plans as well as the tools needed to implement the national strategy, the minister continued. These include the technical commission responsible for drawing up technical guides on the vaccine and setting up vaccination teams before the start of the operation, the drug commission responsible for verifying the licensing process for the use of the vaccine at the national level, and the logistics commission which will ensure the evaluation of available resources and those still to be acquired.

The government official also mentioned the communication commission in charge of preparing the national communication strategy in order to mobilise all stakeholders, and the monitoring and evaluation commission in charge of preparing a plan and mechanisms for registering beneficiaries and monitoring their state of health during and after vaccination.

In view of the importance of this nationwide operation and in order to facilitate its practical implementation, a joint technical commission has been set up at territorial level, with representatives of the Ministries of the Interior and Health, which meets periodically to prepare the operation and check its operational aspects. At the territorial level, all decentralised services have been informed of the content of the national immunisation strategy, the minister continued, adding that the practical and technical aspects of the operation have been communicated to representatives of the regional health directorate, with the aim of drawing up provincial and regional plans.

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

November 22, 2020

COVID-19 in Morocco: A new alarm bell from the WHO

For more than a month now, it is no longer conjecture to say that the pandemic is out of control. Obviously, the situation has clearly worsened over the past weeks as the contamination has flared up to a point never before reached, pushing the country to exceed the 300,000 cases mark. Moreover, the mortality rate is no less significant. The situation is not a happy one, according to a worrying new observation by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The WHO, through its representative in the North Africa and Central Asia region, said that Morocco, Iran and Jordan alone account for more than 60% of the cases of COVID-19 recorded last week in the region. 

This is a new alarming finding that comes on top of others, Morocco is indeed the 32nd most affected country in the world with nearly 321,000 cases and 5256 deaths. The active cases are in continuous progression with around 49,000 cases, including 1,024 in serious condition.

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

Another Covid vaccine for Morocco?

Morocco is preparing to acquire the Russian Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19. An agreement was recently signed between the Russian Direct Investment Fund and the Moroccan pharmaceutical company “Galenica”. In a statement to TASS, Artyom Tsinamdzgvrishvili, head of the Moscow trade mission, noted that the first quantities of doses to be sent to Morocco could be enough to “vaccinate more than 20% of the Moroccan population”. According to the commercial manager, “Galenica”, the Russian vaccine distribution networks can ensure distribution not only in Morocco but also “in other African countries”.

Thanks to the free trade agreements signed by Morocco with the EU, the United States, Turkey and several Arab and African countries,” the Moroccan manufacturing company could become “a hub for the distribution of the vaccine in other countries in the region,” he said.

Russia, the first country to develop the COVID-19 vaccine, has carried out clinical trials with Sputnik V, which would be 92% effective, according to the laboratory.

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

Spain now requires PCR tests for travellers arriving from Morocco

Spain will require a negative PCR test carried out 72 hours before departure by international travellers from countries considered at risk from the spread of the pandemic of the new coronavirus, the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Saturday. Morocco is one of the countries affected by this measure, which will take effect from Monday 23 November.

This measure applies to “all persons travelling to Spain” whose origin of departure is among the areas at risk. “It does not apply to international passengers connecting at a Spanish airport with a final destination in another country”, says the Ministry of Health. Travellers arriving without PCR also risk a fine of up to 6 000 euros, according to the Foreign Ministry.

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

November 21, 2020

Ceuta and Melilla: “hot refoulement” validated by the highest Spanish court

The Spanish Constitutional Court approved on 19 November the automatic refoulement of illegal migrants from the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, on the coast of Morocco, reports InfoMigrants.

These refoulements, which have been the subject of debate for years in Spain, are heavily criticised by NGOs, which see them as an infringement of migrants’ right to seek asylum. Before coming to power in June 2018, the socialists had, for their part, committed to putting an end to these practices. However, this law has not been reformed since then, adds the same source, which reminds us that the European Court of Human Rights also annulled a previous decision condemning Spain in February, thus validating these automatic refoulements.

This automatic refoulement measure does not apply to the Canary Islands, where more than 16,700 migrants arrived this year. This is eleven times more than during the same period last year. A court decision was handed down the day before the visit to Rabat of the Spanish Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, who stated that coordination between Spain and Morocco is currently at “its best level”, particularly in the fight against illegal migration.

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

Agadir/COVID-19: night curfew and beach closures

“These measures come into force from Sunday, November 22, 2020 at 21h for a period of 15 days,” according to a statement from the prefecture of Agadir-Ida Outanane. In this sense, it was decided to close the beaches as well as the closure of Souk El Had and local markets at 3 pm.

It is also a question of the obligation to have an exceptional authorization to move to and from the prefecture of Agadir-Ida Outanane, the prohibition of any form of night travel between 21h and 06h except for travel for health and professional reasons and the closure of cafes, restaurants, shops and large shopping centres at 20h.

It also includes the closure of Hammams and beauty salons, with the exception of hairdressing salons, the closure of sports halls, parks and grounds in the vicinity, as well as the suspension of bus transport at 9 p.m. and the encouragement of distance working where possible. The local authorities have therefore invited the population to support these preventive measures.

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

Commissions to monitor care in private clinics

A central commission and regional commissions will be responsible for monitoring and controlling the care of patients with COVID-19 in private clinics, the Ministry of Health announced.

The central commission is composed of the ministry’s general inspectorate, the National Health Insurance Agency (ANAM) and the National Medical Association, said a statement issued by the ministry after a meeting held Thursday in Rabat and devoted to the continued coordination of measures to be taken in response to the flagrant overruns of the fee schedules for medical care offered to patients of COVID-19, found in some private clinics.

The regional commissions, for their part, are composed of regional inspectors under the supervisory department and representatives of regional councils of the National Order of Physicians, in coordination with ANAM, the ministry said.

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

November 19, 2020

COVID-19 in Morocco: when will there be a return to normal life?

In Morocco, the vaccination campaign against the coronavirus will begin in mid-December and will last three months. Theoretically, a return to an almost normal life could be possible as early as April 2021.

The vaccination campaign ordered by King Mohammed VI will start in mid-December and end in mid-March 2021. The target population? People aged 18 and over (25 million Moroccans) and the elderly and those at risk. This campaign will thus impact 80% of this population. The vaccine that will be used will be the one developed by the Chinese company Sinopharm (Morocco has also signed a contract with Astra Zeneca and is in contact with other laboratories). According to the experts, it is one of the safest and most advanced vaccines and will be as effective as expected. This vaccine has already been used in China.

The health authorities will organise two simultaneous operations as part of the vaccination campaign so that the first people vaccinated receive their second dose around mid-January. The second dose should have been administered to the entire target population by mid-March, Media24 reports, noting that it will take a maximum of 28 days from the second dose to achieve a high level of immunity. If operations are conducted in this way, the return to normal life could be effective by mid-April, as the population’s risk of infection with COVID-19 will decrease and the restrictions will be lifted completely.

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

Migration crisis: Spanish Minister of the Interior expected in Morocco this Friday

In the midst of the migration crisis, the Spanish Minister of the Interior will travel to Morocco to meet his Moroccan counterpart. 
The Spanish Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, will travel to Morocco this Friday, 20 November, to meet his Moroccan counterpart, Abdelouafi Laftit, in a context marked by the rebound in the arrivals of migrants on the Spanish coast, particularly in the Canary Islands, reports the Spanish agency EFE.

This visit comes after multiple calls from the local government of the Canary Islands evoking an unprecedented wave of immigration this year, when more than 18,000 irregular entries have been recorded.

Asked about the issue, the Spanish minister described the situation in the Canary Islands as a “humanitarian drama” during the government monitoring session in Congress held this Wednesday 18 November. It is “an extraordinary and exceptional problem that the Canary Islands are going through this year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic that is causing strong migratory pressure in Africa”.

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

November 18, 2020

Clinical trials in Morocco are encouraging, experts say

Professor Marhoum El Filali Kamal, head of the infectious diseases department at the Ibn Rochd University Hospital in Casablanca, pharmacologist Abdelhafid Oulaâlou, a specialist in biological and infectious sciences, and Dr. Oulaâlou are optimistic after the preliminary results of the clinical trials conducted in Morocco.

As the year 2021 approaches, great relief is on the horizon, as many countries have reached advanced stages in the conduct of clinical trials and others have already begun to place orders for the doses that will put an end to this global epidemic crisis.

Morocco, where the number of cases has exceeded 5,000 per day in recent weeks, has taken a bold step, thanks to the proactive Royal Initiative, by being among the first countries to procure vaccine and meet its needs, according to a vaccination strategy that will be gradually generalised on a large scale, giving priority to front-line staff.

In this context, Professor Marhoum El Filali Kamal, head of the infectious diseases department at the Ibn Rochd University Hospital in Casablanca, said that the preliminary results of the clinical trials, which involved 200 volunteers at the military and university hospitals in Rabat, give cause for hope and satisfaction, since they did not initially leave any serious side effects, except for a few ordinary effects that accompany any vaccine, such as a rise in temperature, headaches or muscle aches.

As for the support of the volunteers, who received the vaccine in two injections between 8 September and 12 November, the professor noted that the clinical study protocol will continue for a year, after 49 days of the first vaccine, and that the doctors will follow up on the cases of people vaccinated once a week for six months, and then once a month for the remaining six months.

While waiting for an objective and scientific evaluation to confirm the efficacy, safety and quality of the vaccine, he has not failed to ensure that the situation is encouraging and that delivery is very close.

The professor nevertheless insisted on the need to continue to comply with all the preventive measures in force, namely the compulsory wearing of masks, hygiene, disinfection and physical distancing, at a time when the possible return to confinement, despite its effectiveness, remains unlikely, given the disastrous repercussions that would ensue.

For the success of this operation, the Ibn Rochd University Hospital has mobilised a large staff for this humanitarian action, comprising 7 doctors, 6 infectious disease specialists and a pneumologist, as well as 7 employees in an analysis laboratory, 4 nurses, a pharmacist and his assistant, he said, noting that logistically speaking, there are several rooms dedicated to awareness, vaccination, analysis and other services, in addition to waiting and meeting rooms.

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

The increase in deaths is due to the move to phase III in some provinces

The increase in deaths is due to the observed rise in the number of contaminations in the post-confinement period with the entry of a number of provinces into the third phase of the spread of COVID-19, stressed Ait Taleb who was answering an oral question on “the causes of the rise in deaths among contaminated people”, presented by the Authenticity and Modernity group at the Chamber of Councillors.

According to the minister, “the upward trend in the number of infections is accompanied by an increase in the number of critical cases and deaths, as evidenced by the lethality rate at the national level remained stable for months at 1.7%, which is considered among the lowest in the world as low as 2.5%”.

He also noted that epidemiological analysis of the national database for COVID-19 shows that the risk factors for death due to the virus are men, adults over 65 years of age and those suffering from chronic diseases, including diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

In this context, the Minister pointed out that the average age of death cases is 66 and a half years, while the average age of cases is 40 years, adding that men account for 69% of all deaths.

Thus, 55% of deaths were due to chronic diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, asthma, cancer and many others, he said, adding that 89% of deaths occurred in intensive care and resuscitation units.

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

WHO: COVID-19 deaths in Africa are linked to diabetes

Diabetics are those who develop the most severe forms of the new coronavirus. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 18.3% of deaths due to COVID-19 in Africa are diabetes-related.

The WHO bases its analysis on a study carried out in 14 African countries. It has been shown that people suffering from diabetes develop the severe form of coronavirus, especially if they are over sixty years old. The number of people with diabetes has risen sharply over the past 30 years, especially type 2 diabetes. From 4 million cases in 1980, they have risen to 25 million in 2014, according to the WHO, which points out that 60% of people living with undiagnosed diabetes are in Africa.

The African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC Africa) published on Saturday 14 November some figures on cases of contamination, recovery and deaths due to COVID-19 in Africa. The number of infected people is currently 1,948,833. The centre indicates that the death toll related to the pandemic was 46,836. The number of recoveries is 1,646,823.

The African countries with the most positive cases and deaths are South Africa, Morocco, Egypt and Ethiopia, according to figures from the CDC Africa, the same source says.

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