November 24 – 30, 2020 | Morocco Press Review

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Photo : John S. sur Flickr

November 30, 2020

Reinforcement of measures in another southern city, Smara

The authorities in Smara have decided to strengthen restrictive measures to contain the risk of spreading COVID-19. According to a communiqué from the competent services, all travel to and from the city is prohibited, except for those with ‘an exceptional travel permit issued by the competent local authorities’. Local markets, cafés and restaurants will close at 9pm, gatherings are totally forbidden and family visits are to be limited.

The authorities have stated that these measures will remain in force for 15 days, renewable for a further two weeks if the pandemic situation in the province does not improve, with the possibility of adopting more restrictive measures, depending on the evolution of the epidemiological situation.

This decision was taken on the basis of daily monitoring of the evolution of the epidemiological situation and the increase in the number of cases of COVID-19 infection in the province.

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

November 29, 2020

Decrease in the price of COVID-19 tests

An agreement in principle has been reached between private laboratories and the National Health Insurance Agency (ANAM) to make the cost of COVID-19 (PCR) testing available. The price will decrease from 700 to 450 dirhams in the private sector and from 500 to 300 dirhams in public institutes.

This measure aims at enabling the large number of citizens to have access to the test, says the daily Al Ahdath Al Maghribia, specifying that with the new pricing, the PCR test will decrease from 700 to 450 dirhams in private laboratories, from 500 to 360 dirhams in university hospitals and from 500 to 300 dirhams in public laboratories. The same source, which reminds that this test is free in public laboratories, indicates that for the analysis of the immune system, the citizen will pay between 100 and 200 dirhams, instead of 300 dirhams in private laboratories.

These private operators authorised to carry out PCR tests in order to relieve the pressure on public laboratories, must have the expertise and equipment necessary for genetic examinations to detect this virus and strictly comply with health and biological safety conditions, with the obligation to inform the authorities of confirmed cases of contamination and to stick to the agreed fees.

As proof, five laboratories in Fez, Rabat and El Jadida, could not be authorised because they did not meet the conditions set out in the specifications.

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

COVID-19, what will change in Khenifra

Local authorities in Khenifra province announced on Sunday the relaxation of several measures taken recently as a preventive measure to curb the spread of COVID-19.

These measures have been taken in view of the improvement of the epidemiological situation in several areas of the province following an ‘analysis of weekly data on cases and rates of infection by COVID-19’, said a statement from Khenifra Province reached MAP.

The authorities of the province thus decided, from Monday 30 November at noon, to continue the ban on all travel to and from the cities of Khenifra and M’rirt, with the exception for individuals with ‘an exceptional travel permit issued by the competent local authorities’.

Exempted from this decision, adds the province, are the transport of goods, basic products and services, professional trips or those justified by extreme necessity, as well as trips for humanitarian reasons or those related to the start of the school and university year for pupils and students.

The authorities have also decided to authorise public transport linking the cities of Khenifra and M’rirt to resume their activities within the limit of 50% of their capacity and to extend the opening hours of cafés and restaurants to 22H00 with a ban on broadcasting football matches and to set the closing hours of shops and supermarkets in the cities of Khenifra and M’rirt at 22H00.

In addition, the closing hours of hairdressing and beauty salons, hammams and parks and public spaces have been set at 22H00.

As for the weekly souks, they will be reopened throughout the province, with the need to respect precautionary measures, while the souks and local markets in the cities of Khénifra and M’rirt are obliged to close at 19H00.

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

Pedro Sanchez expected in Morocco in the midst of the migration crisis in the Canary Islands

Pedro Sanchez is expected in Morocco on 17 December, according to the EFE press agency. In the Moroccan capital, he will co-chair the 12th high-level meeting with his counterpart Saad-Eddine El Othmani. The last time the heads of government of the two kingdoms held this important meeting was on 5 June 2015 in Madrid.

In Morocco, Sanchez will be accompanied by a delegation of economic decision-makers, which is expected to include Antonio Garamendi, President of the Spanish Confederation of Business Organisations, and Joé Luis Binet, President of the Chamber of Commerce. The Iberian media have not yet revealed the names of the ministers of the left-wing coalition government who will travel with Sanchez to Rabat, nor whether a member of Unidas-Podemos will be among them.

The 12th high-level meeting between the two countries comes at a time of migration crisis in the Canary Islands. Spain is counting on the effective involvement of Morocco to curb the massive arrivals of makeshift boats on the archipelago’s coasts. Its Minister of the Interior travelled to Rabat on 20 November to discuss this subject with his counterpart Abdelouafi Laftite.

According to figures from the Spanish Ministry of the Interior, in 2019, the commitment of Morocco’s security forces had made it possible to reduce irregular migration pressure on the coasts of Andalusia and the Balearic Islands by 50%, forcing irregular immigration networks to turn to the Canary Islands.

It remains to be seen whether Morocco is ready to take the same path when the full 140 million euros promised by the European Commission has not yet been paid out? To this financial factor has just been added that of the proximity of Podemos to the Polisario. A proximity brandished and assumed by the 2nd vice-president of the Spanish government, Pablo Iglesias, the day after the Royal Armed Forces operation of 13 November in El Guerguerate.

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

November 28, 2020

Some 3,000 vaccination centres deployed in Morocco

Within the framework of the national vaccination campaign against COVID-19, Health Minister Khalid Ait Taleb, on Monday mentioned some 2888 stations dedicated to this operation.
The Health Minister gave more details on this unprecedented operation during the weekly oral question session in the House of Representatives.
According to Khalid Ait Taleb, following the High Guidelines of HM King Mohammed VI, the establishment of appropriate structures is underway to ensure a massive national vaccination campaign against COVID-19, which will take into account 80% of the population over 18 years.
Initially, the Minister of Health said, this national campaign, which is among the first of its kind in the world, will take into account health personnel, truck drivers, teachers, the elderly and chronically ill citizens. He added that the operation will cover a period of 12 weeks.
‘The development of the final strategies for this campaign is nearing completion […] and the preparation of training sessions for the field teams is underway,’ said Khalid Ait Taleb.

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

Essaouira extends existing preventive measures against COVID-19 by 15 days

The provincial authorities of Essaouira decided on Friday to extend by 15 days the preventive measures in force in the city to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is the extension of all the preventive measures provided for in the order of the governor of the province, Adil El Maliki, dated November 13.

This new decision follows the conclusions of the daily monitoring and regular evaluation operations carried out by the Provincial Monitoring Committee in charge of managing the COVID-19 pandemic.
It should be recalled that the governor of the province had issued an order providing for a battery of measures, which came into force on Friday 13 November at 18H00.

These measures concerned the temporary closure, at 20H00, of commercial premises and those dedicated to professional and service activities in the neighbourhoods that are registering an increase in the number of cases of infection by COVID-19 in the territory of the city of Essaouira.
They also concerned the temporary closure, at 4 p.m., of the weekly market in Sekkala and of local markets, and at 8 p.m., of cafés, restaurants and snack bars in the neighbourhoods concerned, as well as the ban on the broadcasting of football matches in all the cafés located in the Essaouira commune without exception.
The Essaouira authorities had also decided, in accordance with this order, to prohibit all gatherings and gatherings in the various public spaces within the districts concerned, to ensure strict control of compliance with preventive measures (wearing of protective masks, physical distancing) under penalty of the application of the sanctions provided for by law against offenders, and to strengthen control at the entrances to the city.

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

November 27, 2020

Russia promotes ‘Sputnik’ in Morocco

After China, Morocco is approaching Russia. The Russian vaccine against COVID-19, Sputnik-V, will also be offered on the national market. A meeting has just taken place between the health minister and Russian officials in the presence of the Russian Federation’s extraordinary and plenipotentiary ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco, Valerian Vladimirovitch Shuvaev. The announcement of the meeting was made by the Russian embassy. In detail, a remote meeting took place on Wednesday 25 November between senior officials of the Russian and Moroccan Ministries of Health on the promotion of the Russian Sputnik-V vaccine against COVID-19. The minister had addressed the issue a few hours earlier in an interview with Russian media.

‘For the Russian Sputnik-V vaccine, I personally received recently a Moroccan representative. Now, I intend to discuss with the Russian health minister next week to try to debate the issue of the non-replicative virus-vector (Adenovirus) Sputnik-V vaccine from the Russian research centre Gamaleya,’ he said. This is the third type of vaccine that Morocco plans to buy after Sinopharm’s Chinese vaccine and that produced by AstraZeneca. We should not confine ourselves to one type of vaccine either, because each serum offers a particular type of immunity. By mixing immunities, group immunity can be achieved fairly quickly. During the negotiations, we targeted several firms and in the end opted for the Chinese laboratory Sinopharm and the British-Swedish group AstraZeneca.

‘The clinical trials of their vaccines are very conclusive. If all goes well, we will have the first arrivals by December. For the other laboratories, negotiations are still ongoing’, said Khalid Ait Taleb in an interview with the Russian media ‘Sputnik France’ Why is Morocco multiplying negotiations with several laboratories in several countries? It should be noted that the country is preparing to vaccinate massively over the next few months. Morocco will need millions of doses and given the current demand, it is difficult for a single country or a single laboratory to supply all the vaccine needs of another country.

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

November 25, 2020

Here are the dates of the first vaccinations

Vaccination against COVID-19 will be launched on 4 December in 2,889 public hospitals, field hospitals and health centres in Morocco.

In a statement to Le Site info, virologist Mustapha Naji said that medical and paramedical staff will mobilise to carry out 200,000 vaccinations per day. 21 days later, in the fourth week of December, the vaccinated will receive the second dose. The operation will last three months, from Monday to Saturday, before it is extended to the rest of the population. The aim is to preserve public health and reduce the economic and social impact of the pandemic, while guaranteeing a vaccination coverage rate of almost 80% of the population.

Among the main measures deployed to deal with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic is the immunization of the population through vaccination. A high-level Moroccan scientific committee is monitoring the vaccine development process.

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

Rapid tests of COVID-19 in Morocco: what you need to know

The Ministry of Health has announced the launch of rapid screening tests for COVID-19 in several regions of Morocco.

In this regard, Abdelkrim Benmeziane said Tuesday during the bimonthly assessment of the epidemiological situation that this operation will be generalized in Morocco from next week. ‘The advantage of these rapid antigenic tests is that the result is delivered in less than 30 minutes. Moroccans will no longer have to wait several days for the results of their tests. Unfortunately, this wait has contributed to the spread of the virus.’ The head of the communicable diseases division at the ministry’s epidemiology and disease control directorate said.

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

Three sanctioned private clinics, what next?

The pricing of COVID-19 services in private clinics will be revised upwards from the basic rate. The remaining costs for patients will certainly be reduced, but they remain beyond the means of thousands of patients with limited income, who are in danger of dying.
Is this the time to fuel a controversy over the costs of COVID-19 care and services provided by private clinics? At a time when contaminations are spreading like a cancer in metastasis, causing a worrying saturation of the public hospital and in particular its intensive care units, and at a time when everyone was relieved to see the private sector coming to the rescue, a debate, or rather a false debate, is taking place in Morocco concerning the rates for private sector COVID-19 services, which must be revised upwards, compared to those of the basic compulsory health insurance (AMO)!
It all started with the exaggerated and illegal over-invoicing by some clinics. This aberration created a wave of indignation among the families of COVID-19 patients and citizens in general. Eventually, the Ministry of Health reacted. Three clinics were ordered to refund part of the fees that had been charged to patients after investigations by the National Health Insurance Agency (ANAM) and the Ministry of Health’s General Inspectorate.
But nothing is known about the identity of the clinics subject to the sanction. Then the Ministry of Health takes matters into its own hands. Invoices now come under its magnifying glass. A central commission and regional commissions within the health centres, made up of the Ministry’s general inspectorate, ANAM and the National Order of Doctors, will now check the care of patients with COVID-19 in private clinical establishments. Any overshooting will be sanctioned. Justice done. But not for long!

National convention

Private clinics then complained that these basic fees penalized them. Thus, a meeting of the permanent monitoring committee of the national convention on compulsory health insurance, held on Tuesday 24 November 2020, in which representatives of the private clinics took part, concluded that the daily fee for the care of COVID patients in private clinics within the framework of the AMO should be increased.
As a result, the remaining costs for COVID-19 patients or their families will be reduced. But by how much? Concretely, as an example, resuscitation as a clinical service is invoiced in the new tariff at 2.500 DH/day, against 1.500 DH. The price of the stay in intensive care goes up to 1.500 DH/day, against 1.000 DH, increased by the services of pharmacy, biology, radiology as well as the oxygen package, the protection equipment and the consumable specific to COVID. As for the medical hospitalisation rate, it increases to 850 DH/day, against 550 DH.
The rest to be paid by the patients will be reduced, of course, but it remains above the means of thousands of patients with limited incomes (which can reach up to 15,000 or 20,000 dirhams according to the patient’s case and the length of hospitalisation), who are threatened by the danger of death. As a result, the government must urgently find a solution to this inextricable situation.

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

Violence against women increases by 31.6% during confinement.

A total of 4,663 acts of various forms of violence against women were recorded in the same period, the Federation noted at a conference focusing on violence against women, pointing out that psychological violence was the highest rate at 47.9%, followed by economic violence at 26.9% and physical violence at 15.2%. These include 709 acts of physical violence, including one case of homicide against a woman and another of attempted homicide, in addition to a 5.1% increase in sexual violence, the Federation added.

In a speech on this occasion, the president of the FLDF, Latifa Bouchoua, said that the low reporting rate of violence against women is one of the problems that the Federation is constantly observing, a fact that has been confirmed by figures from the High Commission for Planning in 2019.

‘The listening platforms and legal and psychological guidance set up by the Federation and the lddf-injad Network against gender-based violence since March 16, 2020 available to women, have received 1,774 phone calls to report violence from 1,038 women across the Kingdom’ said Bouchoua.

In this regard, she noted that nearly 554 coordination interventions with the various institutional actors have been identified, through the support cells for women victims of violence at regional and local levels, the public prosecutor’s office, the Ministry of Solidarity, Social Development, Equality and the Family, the National Mutual Aid and the health delegations, with the aim of empowering women through care services such as accommodation and the simplification and acceleration of certain procedures.

During the meeting, organised in coordination with the Women in Solidarity Network under the theme ‘Violence against women during the COVID-19 pandemic: assessment and testimonies’, representatives of several organisations stressed that gender-based violence against women is a violation of their dignity and discrimination against them, noting that it is also one of the most widespread and persistent human rights violations.

Violence against women persists mainly because of reporting, impunity, silence and the sense of shame experienced by victims, they stressed. In this sense, Anas Saadoun, a member of the Club of Magistrates in Morocco, said in a statement to the press that the coronavirus pandemic has confirmed the urgent need to respect the protection measures contained in the law on violence against women, published two years ago, adding that ‘the law on violence against women has created a modern conceptual framework to criminalise the different forms of violence against women, particularly through Article 404 of the Penal Code’.

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

November 24, 2020

The COVID-19 reproduction rate has decreased, here are the cities concerned

The reproduction rate (R0) of COVID-19 has declined slightly over the past two weeks to reach 0.9 last Sunday against 1.22 on November 8, said Tuesday in Rabat an official of the Ministry of Health. Presenting the bimonthly assessment of the epidemiological situation, the head of the communicable diseases division at the ministry’s epidemiology and disease control directorate, Abdelkrim Meziane Belfkih, stressed that the weekly epidemiological curve relating to COVID-19 in Morocco had fallen by 12.7 percent until November 22, while the death rate curve rose by 5.9 percent on the same date.

This downward trend was in fact observed in the region of Fez-Meknes (-2.4%), Marrakech-Safi (-6.2%), Drâa-Tafilalet (-8.7%), the Oriental (-12, 5%), Rabat-Salé-Kénitra (-15.2%), Laâyoune-Sakia El Hamra (-17.7%), Dakhla-Oued Eddahad (-21.7%), Casablanca-Settat (-21.9%) and Béni Mellal-Khénifra (-34.4%).

On the other hand, the weekly epidemiological curve rose in the regions of Guelmim-Oued Noun (+28%), Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima (+9.1%) and Souss-Massa (+8.1%), he noted, stressing that Morocco is about to carry out 4 million PCR screening tests, placing it in 2nd place at continental level and 31st worldwide in this field.

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