December 29, 2020 – January 04, 2021 | Morocco Press Review

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Photo: John S. on Flickr

January 04, 2021

The drop in positive cases is not an indicator of an improvement in the epidemiological situation.

A significant drop in positive cases of COVID-19 has been observed in recent times, especially this Monday in Morocco. Indeed, the Kingdom has recorded in 24 hours, 656 positive cases. Everything therefore suggests that the indicators are green and that the epidemiological situation in the Kingdom is rather good. But this is by no means the case.

If we analyse the figures provided by the Ministry of Health, Morocco has carried out 7,202 COVID-19 tests in 24 hours. This automatically follows a drop in the number of positive cases in the country. As a result, the actual number of positive cases in the country remains unknown.

It should therefore be recalled that Morocco has always been ranked second on the African continent in terms of PCR tests with 20,000 units performed per day since June, rising to 17,000 tests, then 10,000 to reach 7,202 tests this Monday, January 4.

Contacted by Hespress Fr on this subject, Dr. Abdelafattah Chakib, specialist in infectious diseases at the Ibn Rochd University Hospital in Casablanca confirms our analysis. The specialist confided to us that he has no scientific explanation for this drop in positive cases, but on the other hand underlines several factors which can explain it, in particular the drop in PCR tests.

The specialist also rejects the hypothesis that this drop is linked to the restrictive measures taken in several cities in the Kingdom, notably Casablanca, which is densely populated.

Another factor raised by the specialist is the public’s understanding of the disease. “We have the impression, and I say impression because there have been no studies to prove this, that people have understood the disease and know the symptoms of the coronavirus. So they don’t do PCR tests anymore. They treat themselves directly and individually by taking Zinc, Vitamin C etc. I think the Moroccans have understood what coronavirus is. It means having a good level of oxygen. The rest is details. At least in the Moroccan mind,” says Dr. Chakib.

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

Vaccination: AstraZeneca-Oxford could be the first to be deployed in Morocco

It’s just a matter of days before the long-awaited national vaccination campaign against CVDVID-19 starts in Morocco. Indeed, according to a source close to the dossier, the vaccine registration advisory commission that met last week to study the marketing of the two vaccines chosen by Morocco, notably the British AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, has completed its review.

Now that the review of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine dossier has been completed, the final marketing authorisation for the UK vaccine in Morocco by the Ministry of Health remains to be granted by the Ministry of Health and will be issued this week. And it is the ministry’s Directorate of Medicines and Pharmacy (DMP) which is giving it as it is the case for any vaccine or medicine intended for use in Morocco, our source points out.

Once the ministry’s authorisation has been granted, the operation to deliver the vaccine will begin, and so will the vaccination campaign. The AstraZeneca vaccine will therefore be the first to be deployed in Morocco against the phantom virus.

“The commission has studied all the scientific aspects of the AstraZeneca vaccine’s MA dossier to ensure its effectiveness and immunogenicity. What remains now is the final marketing decision by the Minister of Health and the DMP,” explains our source.

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

January 02, 2021

Essaouira-COVID-19. 68 vaccination stations mobilised

The province of Essaouira is preparing for the Covid-19 vaccination campaign. Thus, 68 vaccination stations and 72 medical teams have already been mobilised, according to the provincial health delegate in Essaouira, Zakaria Aït Lahcen.

Of these 68 stations, four are located in the Essaouira commune and a fixed vaccination point will be located in the town, while the others are distributed among the various territorial authorities under the province. As for the vaccination teams, they are made up of 183 nurses, 23 doctors, members of the Moroccan Red Crescent (MRC) and students from the Higher Institute of Nursing and Health Technology (ISPITS) who have undergone dedicated training sessions.

The vaccination teams were equipped with tablets to enable them to enter data and make daily assessments of this large-scale operation. Refrigerators and isothermal boxes are also provided as these vaccines require a specific temperature and specific storage conditions.

In addition, this vaccination operation will cover all citizens of the province, aged over 18 years, according to a two-injection vaccination schedule, maintaining that priority will be given to front-line staff, namely health workers, public authorities, security forces of all kinds, and national education staff, as well as the elderly, those suffering from chronic diseases or most vulnerable to the virus, before extending it to the rest of the population. The provincial delegation is expected to receive 513,000 doses of vaccine.

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

January 01, 2021

COVID-19: AstraZeneca National Vaccine Licensing Commission Meeting

The national consultative commission for the authorization of the vaccine anti-Covid-19 met on Thursday in Rabat to discuss the issue of the authorization of AstraZeneca’s vaccine in Morocco.

During this meeting, the national commission examined all the information and international data relating to AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, the director of medicines and pharmacy at the Ministry of Health, Bouchra Meddah told the press at the end of the meeting, noting that the commission is studying the proper compliance with the standards of manufacture, safety, quality and efficacy of the vaccine, the results of preclinical and clinical trials as well as the international recognition of this vaccine.

It noted that the UK Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency has given the go-ahead for the marketing of the vaccine, noting that Morocco has adopted the WHO procedure for the authorisation of the use of the vaccine in the context of a health emergency.

For his part, the director of the virology laboratory of the Hassan II University in Casablanca, Moulay Mustapha Ennaji, stressed that the commission’s scientific exchanges allow for an exhaustive study of the various information relating to the AstraZeneca vaccine, including pharmaceutical data and manufacturing processes.

“The commission will take a final decision on this vaccine as soon as possible,” Mr Ennaji said.

For his part, Azeddine Ibrahimi, Director of the Biotechnology Laboratory of the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy in Rabat, recalled the certification and authorisation for use of the Sinopharm and AstraZeneca vaccines by the governments of their countries of origin, stressing that the national commission is studying the data on the AstraZeneca vaccine in order to take the appropriate decision in full transparency.

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

Personalities of the year 2020 : Women in Health Making a Difference

Female medical staff are always on the front line in the fight against COVID-19. They continue to be at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic since the first cases appeared in March 2020 in Morocco. Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, specialists, midwives, technicians, social workers … women health workers make the difference and the Moroccan network for the defence of the right to health and the right to life has not failed to pay tribute to them.

The network reports that its women have marked the year 2020 in this time of unprecedented health crisis of COVID-19 by its magnitude and by and impact on our lives, noting that its women are leading a real struggle with courage abnegation devotion, bravery, benevolence and humanism.

The pandemic has highlighted not only the essential role played by frontline health workers, but also the problems that plague their actions and their daily work, the same source said. From lack of logistical resources and medicines to staff shortages, all of this is coupled with the difficulties of reconciling work and family obligations and the constraints of daily life.

Despite this, they continue to make many sacrifices to save human lives, and take enormous risks because they work in precarious conditions. The network thus recalls the difficult tasks performed by women in the health sector who do most of the work against COVID-19, noting that they work continuously, managing, coaching, counselling, testing, consulting, diagnostic research, administering treatment and alleviating suffering. However, healthy women are more likely to be infected, the network says.

But not only that! The same source goes on to say that these women not only have to fight this deadly disease, but also face stress, fatigue and exhaustion. In spite of the difficult conditions or the reigning fear of COVID-19, his women are worried about their health and worry about their family members. They are making all the difference in 2020 in the face of this crisis of COVID -19 says the network.

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

December 31, 2020

Migrants, first victims of the crisis linked to COVID-19

The year 2020 has been a tough year for migrants, particularly Sub-Saharans settled or in transition in Morocco. Although figures are lacking on the number of people affected by the coronavirus within the migrant community, the indirect harmful effects generated by the pandemic have been rather palpable. Thus many of them found themselves without food and without money to pay rent to their landlords. Worse still, active migrants found themselves excluded from government support measures designed to preserve the purchasing power of employees of companies in difficulty in the face of the health emergency linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Their only source of survival has been the donations of people of good will who are willing to help them. Some migrants have been victims of illegal confinement, as was the case of the dozens of would-be migrants, including women and children, who were arrested and illegally locked up in Tarfaya, nearly 75 days ago, in premises not belonging to the prison administration. The authorities justified this confinement by the context of the spread of Covid-19 and the measures taken as part of the health emergency. The case of these migrants is not isolated. Other people have experienced the same ordeal a few kilometres from this site. They are 50 sub-Saharan migrants who have been detained since 20 March last in hygienic and feeding conditions considered very difficult.

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

December 30, 2020

COVID-19: Will it be possible to keep the vaccination schedule in Morocco?

In the twilight of this dark year 2020, the long-awaited vaccination campaign against the new coronavirus has still not been launched in Morocco. Scheduled for early December, the Ministry of Health had announced a likely launch by the end of December.

Promised at the beginning of this month after a long preparation and a lot of communication, the vaccination campaign against the new coronavirus in Morocco has still not been launched. The Ministry of Health had asked Moroccans for patience in announcing a likely start towards the end of December. While the country was among the first to announce its vaccination campaign in November, it remains dependent on the acquisition of the necessary batches of vaccine, but above all on the authorisation of the health authorities in China and the United Kingdom.

Indeed, Morocco is waiting for the authorisation date of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, ordered by the country, to be submitted for approval by the Moroccan health authorities, in the same way as the British vaccine. The second vaccine, ordered from AstraZeneca in Morocco, has been authorised in the UK, while all eyes were on Beijing. However, it remains to be seen whether the Moroccan health authorities will authorise it quickly to start the vaccination campaign without waiting for the Chinese vaccine.

Vaccines that are slow in coming

On 15 December last, Khalid Ait Taleb warned that “the quantity currently available worldwide will not be able to cover all the needs in the world” and that in order to obtain the lots needed for this campaign, it was therefore necessary to “initiate a process of negotiation and dialogue” with the developers. Within the framework of the partnerships sealed between Morocco and China, the minister stressed that the state developer of the Sinopharm vaccine will supply batches covering the needs of more than 20 million people. A second acquisition by the British company AstraZeneca will cover the needs of 12 million others.

After the mobilisation of professionals, but also of the populations mainly targeted by this campaign through their identification, these postponements, accompanied by a lack of communication, pose a risk of eroding the population’s confidence in the vaccination operation. Broken promises and exaggerated announcements do not give a sense of control. For example, the announcement of a rate of 500,000 people vaccinated daily seems untenable, given the rates observed in other countries that have already started their vaccination campaigns.

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

December 29, 2020

Khalid Ait Taleb: “No case of the new variant” of COVID-19 for the time being

Morocco has so far registered no case of the new variant of Covid-19 according to the samples tested, Health Minister Khalid Ait Taleb said Tuesday.

“No case of the new variant of Covid-19 has been registered in Morocco according to a series of tests conducted by the Pasteur Institute,” the minister explained in a statement for Le360.

Last week, British authorities announced that they had identified two cases of another new strain of the coronavirus, “of high concern” because it is “more contagious”, coming from South Africa, a country with which travel restrictions are being put in place “immediately”.

This discovery came a few days after that of another new variant, which the British health authorities consider to be more contagious. Several countries have already been affected by this new variant, such as Spain and France, among others.

Khalid Ait Taleb also described the Covid-19 situation in Morocco as “stable”. “We hope to further stabilise the situation and even further reduce the spread with the aim of making the vaccination campaign more successful,” he added.

Moreover, when questioned about the vaccination campaign, the Minister of Health assured that the authorities are deploying all possible efforts to launch the vaccination campaign as soon as possible.

“The authorities, particularly the health authorities, are making great efforts to quickly import the vaccines from Sinopharm (China) and AstraZeneca (Sweden-UK),” he said, noting that Morocco will receive these vaccines “in a few days”.

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

Tourism. How is Morocco preparing for the post-COVID-19 era?

Recently, the law on the Mohammed VI Fund for Investment was passed, as part of a legislative process done in record time, in the wake of the Finance Law. Concretely, sectoral funds, including that of tourism, will be able to be implemented. This will provide solutions to the tourist sector, which has seen a drop in activity of up to 80%. Meanwhile, what is being prepared internally?

Morocco is fine-tuning its strategy of reconquest on the world tourism market. To maximise our chances, the Tourism Department is working on the traditional emitting countries. The challenge is to rebuild the market shares, and if possible improve it with a strategy of reconquest. “We are working on a common scenario with all the parties for a restart at the end of the first quarter of 2021. We are confident that we can restart in April 2021. Our big hope is the vaccination, which will consolidate the image of Morocco in the management of this crisis, which is very good,” explained Nadia Fettah, Minister of Handicrafts, Air Transport and Social Economy (photo), during the 23rd edition of the Tuesdays of Tourism.

Vaccination is a major asset in Morocco, but also in most of the issuing countries. Then, on the revival, there are several themes. The first is to prepare for World Class sanitary processes.

To this end, the airports are mobilised. In addition to the certification which had been developed internally, they are in a process of international certification, for the main international airports. The challenge is to take it up a notch higher. The objective set by the supervisory authority is to achieve 40% to 50% of revenues by 2019, in 2021. Studies in progress or internationally shared scenarios are counting on the end of 2023 to reach 2019 revenues. “We are currently thinking about how to shorten this period by six months or a year. That is more or less the objective we have set ourselves,” the minister said.

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