December 21 – 28 , 2020 | Press Review Morocco

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Photo: John S. on Flickr

December 28, 2020

Casablanca’s restorers stand up against unfair and unequal closure

The professionals of the catering sector in the city of Casablanca have expressed their dissatisfaction with the restaurants in the Morocco Mall that are still open, despite the decision to close in four Moroccan cities, including Casablanca, Agadir, Tangier and Marrakech for three weeks, due to the pandemic.

In concordant statements collected by Alyaoum24 , some restaurateurs in the city confirmed that the food outlets in the Morocco Mall were operating normally, especially at weekends when customers are welcomed in large numbers. The other Casablanca restaurants, for their part, have had to suffer the economic effects of the closure, containing home delivery or takeaway services.

Commenting on the subject, the coordinator of the Joint Commission of Catering Trades, Mohamed Abou El Fadl, questioned the logic of such decisions. He felt that the contrast between maintaining activities at the Morocco Mall and the total closure of certain signs in accordance with the authorities’ decision was “unfair” and “discriminatory”.

Hotel restaurants in the cities concerned also continue to serve their customers until 8 p.m., with the possibility of providing room service after that time.

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

December 27, 2020

The British strain has not been detected in Morocco (as of Sunday 27 December)

Morocco has a monitoring system where three laboratories follow the mutations of coronaviruses detected in Morocco. Since the announcement of the appearance of a strain in the United Kingdom, vigilance is particularly necessary.

At midday on Sunday 27 December, no virus corresponding to this mutation was detected in samples taken from Moroccan patients, Media24 learns from an authorised source.

Contacted by us, Dr Moulay Saïd Afif, president of Infovac Maroc and the Moroccan Society of Medical Sciences, praises the Moroccan decision to suspend air links with the UK, as the arrival of this strain must be delayed or prevented. “This strain is more contagious, from 40% to 70% according to observations, but it is no more virulent.

It is nevertheless dangerous, because if it spreads to other countries, it could be dangerous There will be more cases, and who says more deaths. But the number of cases must drop and the pressure on the health system must be reduced so that it can devote itself serenely to the vaccination campaign.

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

December 26, 2020

Morocco/Traditional education: Green light for institutions wishing to opt for on-site teaching

The Ministry of Habous and Islamic Affairs announced Friday that it has given its approval to traditional educational institutions wishing to opt for the face-to-face mode of teaching, in response to the insistence of parents and guardians of pupils and students, and supervisors of these institutions.

The Ministry recalls in a press release that it had decided, as part of the precautionary measures taken for the management of traditional education during the school and university year (2020-2021), in the light of the exceptional situation in the Kingdom due to the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic, to adopt distance learning for traditional education institutions until December 2020, with the hope that circumstances will allow the restart of face-to-face courses at the beginning of January 2021.

The Ministry has approved the adoption of face-to-face teaching in these establishments, on the basis of the reports of the specialised committees, and the commitment of the establishments concerned to respect the health protocol of prevention against COVID-19, in order to ensure the continuation of studies in safe teaching conditions.

As regards the remaining period of the current school year, the Ministry informs the supervisors of traditional educational establishments, the teaching and administrative staff, and all students and pupils and their parents that it gives the green light to the establishments previously authorized to adopt teaching in face-to-face mode to continue to opt for this mode in full and strict compliance with precautionary measures and health safety rules, while distance education will continue to be adopted by the other establishments.

The Ministry may, at any time, examine the applications of institutions wishing to opt for face-to-face teaching and take appropriate decisions in this regard, in accordance with the conditions and rules in force, the statement stresses.

It points out that courses in digital format have been made available to pupils, students and teachers on the website dedicated to traditional education “”, in order to ensure pedagogical continuity in institutions that adopt the distance education formula.

The ministry is also providing smart cards for all pupils and students (from the 4th primary level upwards) to enable them to benefit from free access to the ” ” digital platform, the press release continues.

In this context, the ministry calls on all pupils and students who have not yet received their smart cards to go to the nearest delegation of Islamic Affairs to retrieve them, concludes the press release.

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

December 25, 2020

Morocco: Violent interventions with migrant populations in Rabat

The Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH) in Nador recently revealed that violent interventions with migrants have taken place in Rabat, with forced displacements to Marrakech. According to data made public Thursday by the NGO, these practices would last “for weeks”.

Contacted by Yabiladi on Friday, the local section said that similar operations “take place daily”. They target in particular the districts of Takaddoum, Massira, G5 in Yakoub El Mansour as well as around the Kamra bus station.

“Serious violations are committed against sub-Saharan migrants”, the association warned, reporting cases of “violence, arbitrary arrests, round-ups, refoulements in deserted areas in difficult conditions”, without “anyone talking about it”. “Don’t be complicit in your silence,” said the local section, which appeals to the associative fabric and deplores the silence of certain organisations defending migrants’ rights, even though they are present in the capital.

Reporting facts that allegedly occurred on Wednesday, the AMDH-Nador warns of raids against sub-Saharan migrants “of great violence” causing injuries. “The arrested migrants were sent back to the region of Marrakech where they were abandoned around 4am in the freezing cold,” the NGO deplores. The NGO observes with Yabiladi that “the authorities want the migrants to remain grouped either in the north or in the south of the country, but that they do not gather in any case in Rabat”.

By alerting about these operations, the NGO also castigates a “role of border guards” of the European Union, “however denied a few days ago by the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs” and which consists in carrying out anticipation operations to prevent foreign nationals from undertaking “operations of anticipation”.

to prevent foreign nationals from undertaking possible departures at sea.

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

Morocco: Why has the number of PCR tests and COVID+ cases decreased?

In Morocco, the last few weeks have seen a slight decrease in daily infections with the new coronavirus. But the number of deaths and the pressure on the resuscitation services continue to be important. Why has the intensity of screening decreased?

As of 6 December 2020, the reproduction rate (R0) of the new coronavirus in Morocco has fallen slightly over two weeks. This index is now 0.92, according to Abdelkrim Meziane Belfkih, head of the communicable diseases division at the Ministry of Health’s epidemiology and disease control directorate. Announcing the bimonthly assessment at a press briefing, the official stressed that this trend is particularly observed in the Oriental (-25%), Drâa-Tafilalet (-22%), Guelmim-Oued Noun (-21%), Casablanca-Settat (-14%), Rabat-Salé-Kénitra (-5%), Marrakech-Safi (-5%), Laâyoune-Sakia El Hamra (-2%) and Fès-Meknès (-1%). Deaths fell by 3.6% over the same period. Overall, more than 4 million PCR tests have been carried out in the country.

Although there has been a slight decrease in mortality in the kingdom, deaths remain relatively high and the pressure on intensive care and resuscitation services in hospitals remains high. Specialists are trying to explain the paradox between this observation and the decline in contagion through several hypotheses. The hypothesis of a decrease in the use of screening tests could be a factor, but it cannot in itself be a determining factor for the time being.

Fewer tests for symptomatic cases

Contacted by Yabiladi, the MAScIR Foundation indicated that its startup Moldiag has today “a production capacity of 1 million tests per month. This production capacity can go up to 3 million tests per month”. Despite their availability, the use of PCR tests would be less frequent, according to Dr. Zineb Alaoui, head of the public health service at the Casablanca – Settat Regional Health Directorate and head of the Regional Centre for Emergency Public Health Operations (CROUSP). “We have indeed noticed that the number of samples taken has decreased everywhere in Morocco, in both public and private structures, but it is complicated to make a direct link with the decrease in infections,” she told Yabiladi.

This attitude, according to the specialist, could be explained by the fact that “people feel less the need to take a sample and make less of a link between the first symptoms and the virus itself”. “If we take a general ratio between the number of samples taken and the number of positive cases, we notice a decrease, in the sense that there are fewer covid+ patients per 100 people sampled, compared to the statistics of two months ago,” Dr. Alaoui explained.

Head of the Infectious Diseases Department at the Casablanca University Hospital Centre, Professor Kamal Marhoum El Filali considers for his part that “it is very difficult to interpret the figures in relation to real infections, if this is not done on the basis of the elements collected over the coming weeks, to see if this trend is confirmed”. “For the moment, we can say that it is confirmed very slightly, if we take into account the number of deaths and the number of patients with severe symptoms who are hospitalised in the intensive care and resuscitation units,” says the doctor with Yabiladi. He also believes that “as long as we don’t have a concordance between these different elements, we can’t say that the drop in infections or contagiousness is mainly linked to the drop in the use of PCR tests”.

Mortality and pressure on hospital structures, key factors in monitoring

Prof. Marhoum El Filali rather confirms “a concordance of the decrease in contagion and infection with the number of deaths”. “We have some initial observations on a slight decrease in mortality. This trend is not spectacular, but it remains a positive indicator, compared to the weeks when we had between 70 and 80 deaths per day,” he says, adding that “it would have to continue and the number would have to continue to fall” to really constitute a striking trend.

In addition to this decrease, which should be confirmed over time, “we must observe the level of pressure on hospital structures in the management of severe cases”, according to the head of department. “This pressure is still there at the level of resuscitation and intensive care in the university hospitals, which are under very heavy pressure,” he said. In this context, it is difficult to make conclusions on the factor of the number of PCR tests, according to Prof. Marhoum El Filali.

“We can say that at this stage of the pandemic, these tests are aimed at cases with symptoms rather than asymptomatic ones, as was the case at the beginning of the state of health emergency, because the priority at present is to identify and treat the most severe patients as a matter of priority” Prof. Kamal Marhoum El Filali

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

Fez-Meknes: Progress of the vaccination campaign preparations against COVID-19

Preparations are well underway in the Fez-Meknes region for the launch of the vaccination campaign against COVID-19.

In this context, the Wali of the Fez-Meknes region, governor of the prefecture of Fez, Said Zniber, accompanied by a large delegation, visited Thursday a warehouse, set up and equipped by the Ministry of Health, to store the vaccine doses against COVID-19.

The Wali was also informed about the preparations of the regional health department and the facilities needed to receive the vaccine doses against Covid19, such as storage warehouses, cold rooms, refrigerators and thermal insulation bags, given that the vaccine requires a certain temperature and special storage conditions.

Pending receipt of the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, the authorities are working to launch the vaccination operation, which will last no longer than three months.

The planned two-stage vaccination, two doses separated by 21 days, will primarily target front-line workers, including health workers, public authorities, security services and national education sector personnel. Then it will reach other categories of citizens according to their age.

In order to manage this national campaign, a computerised system has been adopted to enable pre-registration and appointment scheduling, with registration being automatic for holders of the national identity card or residence permit.

At the territorial level, the Ministry’s strategy provides for the establishment of a joint technical commission in which the Ministries of the Interior and Health are represented, which meets periodically to prepare the operation and check its operational aspects.

The national vaccination campaign is a genuine response to the pandemic with the aim of achieving a coverage rate of at least 80pc, which is necessary to ensure collective immunity and progress towards a return to normal life.

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

Morocco acquires 65 million doses of vaccines

Morocco has acquired 65 million doses of the two vaccines for which the Kingdom has opted, Health Minister Khalid Ait Taleb announced before the Government Council meeting on Thursday, adding that the target population amounts to 25 million people. The preparations for the launch of the national vaccination campaign have reached a “very advanced” stage, said the Health Minister, quoted in a statement read by the Minister of National Education, Vocational Training, Higher Education and Scientific Research, government spokesman, Saaid Amzazi, during a press briefing held after the Council.

Khalid Ait Taleb said that, as announced in the communiqué of the Royal Cabinet, the vaccination of the targeted population will be carried out free of charge and in a progressive manner, in accordance with the high instructions of HM the King, who has always surrounded the Moroccan people with his high concern and human benevolence since the appearance of the COVID-19, as part of a national campaign that will encompass the entire Kingdom and during which priority will be given in particular to front-line staff, in this case health workers, public authorities, security forces and national education staff, as well as the elderly and people vulnerable to the virus, before extending it to the rest of the population.

Preparations for the launch of this campaign were marked by on-the-job training at all the sites set up for the vaccination of citizens, the aim being to train the mobilized cadres and avoid any obstacles that might arise during the effective implementation of the vaccination programme, he added, noting that several factors were taken into consideration in defining the vaccination sites, including proximity, while ensuring the continuity of other health services. As part of these preparations, the Minister dwelt on the organizational measures that have been taken at the national, regional and provincial levels, highlighting the important role of partners, including the Ministry of the Interior, which is deploying, alongside the Ministry of Health, relentless efforts to launch the national immunization campaign, welcoming the mobilization of all the necessary human resources, all categories, both public and private.

The Minister of Health also presented data on the cold chain equipment set up to preserve the quality of the vaccine during all stages of transport, from its reception at the airport to its use. He also highlighted the computer system deployed by the Ministry of Health to ensure the success of this campaign, covering all aspects of the operation, namely the registration of targeted citizens, post-vaccination monitoring and communication with the entire population, partners and professionals in the sector, explained Saaid Amzazi.

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

December 24, 2020

Agadir/COVID-19. The field hospital is operational

Following the example of other cities in the kingdom, Agadir has set up a field hospital for the management of COVID-19 cases, in order to relieve the pressure on other hospital structures, notably the Hassan II Regional Hospital Centre in Agadir. It should be noted that this unit, with a capacity of 101 beds, equipped with oxygen, in the form of a tent, had been installed more than two months ago but had not been put into service. Why was it not put into service? According to the Souss-Massa Regional Health Department, this field hospital had been envisaged as a last resort solution, since the bedding capacity in resuscitation, within the regional hospital, was not fully occupied.

Today, this new medical structure was officially opened in the middle of last week, to receive COVID-19 patients. With regard to the human resources issue that should accompany the opening of this hospital, according to the regional health department, eleven doctors have been assigned to this new medical structure, including a chief doctor and the on-call service. There are also eleven multi-skilled nurses in addition to a midwife and seven other Emergency and Intensive Care Nurses (ISUSI). In addition, there are 7 anaesthetists and 8 orderlies.

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

December 23, 2020

Restaurant closures: it gets tougher in Rabat, Casa, Marrakech and Agadir

Three weeks of night-time curfew nationwide, starting this Wednesday, December 23rd, which is sending food service professionals into a frenzy. The situation is getting tougher in the cities of Rabat, Casablanca, Marrakech and Agadir where restaurants will have to close down completely. It is not sure that these companies will be able to recover after this new sledgehammer blow.

A few days before the end of the year festivities, the government is playing the role of troublemaker. In a statement released late Monday, the executive announced a battery of measures to deal with the spread of the pandemic COVID-19. On the recommendation of the Scientific and Technical Committee, more restrictive measures will thus be applied for a period of three weeks, starting today, Wednesday 23 December. On the national territory level, details the same source, it has been decided to close restaurants, cafés, shops and supermarkets from 8 pm. Also, a night curfew will be decreed from 9 pm to 6 am throughout the national territory, except in certain special cases, adds the press release. The document also informs us that the organisation of public or private parties and gatherings is prohibited, particularly in large cities where restaurants will be completely closed for a period of three weeks.

An “implacable” decision

The cities concerned are Casablanca, Marrakech, Agadir and Tangier. A “very tough” decision, according to economist Khalid Ben Ali, while Morocco has so far recorded a total of 418,002 confirmed cases of COVID-19 contamination and 7,000 deaths for a number of recoveries amounting to 380,134 cases. “You know, it’s not easy to make decisions with such far-reaching consequences. There is necessarily a logic or a necessity that has led the Executive to react in this way,” emphasises the university professor, according to whom a call to order for Moroccans was necessary in view of the laxity in places of assembly, especially large shopping centres. “We have made a simple observation: there have been greater peaks of coronavirus cases after than before the generalised containment. This means that Moroccans no longer respect the barrier measures,” he explains.

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

COVID-19: EU provides €169 million in aid for Morocco

The European Union (EU) announced on Wednesday that it had disbursed €169 million to Morocco to help the country’s authorities strengthen the medical response to the coronavirus pandemic and put in place measures to mitigate its socio-economic impact.

“This latest payment is part of the EU’s commitment to mobilise €450 million for Morocco in the fight against the coronavirus,” says a European Commission press release. A previous amount of €264 million was paid to Morocco at the beginning of March, the European executive said, noting that “this aid has enabled the Kingdom both to strengthen its medical response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to put in place measures to mitigate the social and economic effects of the pandemic”. “Stimulating growth and employment in order to guarantee livelihoods and keep companies affected by the current crisis afloat is a key priority for both sides”, emphasises the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, quoted in the communiqué. “Morocco is an important partner of the EU and we are united in this fight”, the European Commissioner added.

For the period 2014-2020, the EU has allocated around €1.4 billion (around €200 million per year) in bilateral aid to Morocco, focused on support for inclusive development and equitable access to basic social services (education, health, social protection), democratic governance, the rule of law and the development of civil society, support for the private sector, sustainable growth and job creation, especially among young people), it is recalled.

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

In Morocco, 56% of civil servants satisfied with the telework experience

No less than 56% of civil servants, questioned in a survey conducted by the Administration Reform Department, considered that the experience of teleworking conducted in the context of Covid-19 was positive in terms of time savings for travel and flexibility.

According to the findings of this survey, conducted in cooperation with the World Bank among all ministerial departments from 10 August to 30 September, 36% of employees feel comfortable and safe to return to face-to-face work, compared to 43% who do not, even though they believe that the administrations respect the required security measures.

The survey notes that 58% of civil servants are concerned about the health risks of returning to the office, 24% are concerned about childcare arrangements, while 49% of managers had difficulty encouraging their staff to return to the office, according to a statement by the Ministry of Economy, Finance and Administrative Reform.

In terms of physical and psychological well-being, 61% of directors feel they have managed stress well, while 37% of civil servants feel they have not been able to manage their stress, 45% say their psychological health has deteriorated since the start of the pandemic and 33% feel their physical health has deteriorated.

During the pandemic, the majority of civil servants in the public administration experienced difficulties in getting to work and 43% of them encountered problems in reconciling telework and household chores. Only 30% of civil servants have a good enough internet connection to do their work effectively from home.

Similarly, only 37% of managers have set performance targets for their teleworking employees, while the lack of resources and equipment (computers, internet, collaborative platforms) has been the biggest challenge for civil servants.

In the same vein, 78% of managers agreed to introduce telework for a certain category of staff, the survey reveals.

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

December 22, 2020

COVID-19: Morocco’s R0 stabilises

The reproduction rate (R0) of COVID-19 shows a slight continuous improvement and stabilizes at 0.93 last Sunday, said Tuesday in Rabat, the head of the division of communicable diseases at the Directorate of Epidemiology and Disease Control at the Ministry of Health, Abdelkrim Meziane Belfkih.

Presenting the bimonthly report on the epidemiological situation, Meziane Belfkih stressed that the weekly epidemiological curve relating to Covid-19 in Morocco has declined by 12.2% until 20 December. This downward trend was observed, in particular, in the region of Dakhla-Oued Eddahab (-50%), Souss-Massa (-38.8%), Guelmim-Oued Noun (-23.1%), Rabat-Salé-Kénitra (-22.6%), Beni Mellal-Khénifra (-15.6%), Casablanca-Settat (-9.9%), Marrakech-Safi (-6%), Laâyoune-Sakia El Hamra (-5.2%) and Fès-Meknès (-2%).

The weekly epidemiological curve, on the other hand, has increased in the regions of Drâa-Tafilalet (+15%), Tangier-Tétouan-Al Hoceima (+7.2%) and the Oriental (+3.9%), he said. As for the death curve, it has recorded a 12.1% drop in the last two weeks, he continued.

Worldwide, the number of positive cases stands at 77,412,198 up to December 21, for a cumulative incidence rate of 993.1 per 100,000 inhabitants. The number of deaths recorded was 1,703,527, a case-fatality rate of 2.2%, he added, adding that the number of people cured reached about 54,305,862, a cure rate of 70.2%.

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