February 13 – 21, 2021 | Maroc Press Review

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Photo: John S. on Flickr

February 22, 2021

COVID-19: Vaccination campaign extended to 60-64 year olds and people with chronic diseases

The national vaccination campaign will be extended, starting next Wednesday, to the age group between 60 and 64 years and to people suffering from chronic diseases, the Health Ministry announced on Sunday.

In parallel with the vaccination of the categories currently targeted, i.e. the over-65s, the vaccination operation will be extended, from 24 February, to the 60-64 age group, as well as to the first group of people suffering from chronic diseases, including cancerous diseases, and who benefit from compulsory medical coverage schemes (CNOPS, CNSS) and RAMED, the ministry said in a press release.

To this end, the Ministry of Health once again invites all citizens belonging to the targeted categories to continue their membership of this major national project, with a view to achieving collective immunity, by sending an SMS to the free number 1717 or by consulting the liqahcorona.ma website to find out the date and place of vaccination.

He also insists on the need to continue to comply with prevention measures before, during and after the vaccination operation against COVID 19, to contribute to efforts to fight against the spread of the virus, particularly after the discovery of new variants in Morocco.

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

February 21, 2021

24 cases of the British variant detected in Morocco, the Ministry of Health calls for vigilance

The Ministry of Health has called on all citizens to redouble their vigilance in the face of the appearance of new variants of covid-19, especially as the Kingdom is in the midst of a vaccination operation against the epidemic.

“The Ministry of Health recalls that the COVID-19 virus continues to rage in the country and therefore calls on all citizens to redouble their vigilance, especially since the country is in the middle of a vaccination operation against the coronavirus and that the collective immunity is not yet reached,” the department said in a statement reached MAP on Sunday.

As part of the genomic monitoring strategy set up by the Ministry of Health to search for new variants of SARS-CoV2, the Consortium of Laboratories in charge of genomic monitoring and monitoring of circulating strains at the national level announces the detection of 21 new strains of the English variant.

The same source notes that the total number of cases of this variant is 24 strains detected to date, adding that the genomic monitoring system has not yet detected any South African or Brazilian variants on the national territory.

The ministry stresses the obligation to continue to strictly comply with preventive measures, by wearing the protective mask correctly, by keeping a physical distance of more than one metre, by regularly washing hands with soap and water or hydro-alcoholic gel.

It also invites the general public to avoid any gathering and encourages the elderly or chronically ill to be more careful.

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

February 20, 2021

Coronavirus in Morocco: nearly 2.5 million people vaccinated

A total of 444 new cases of coronavirus infection and 772 recoveries have been recorded in the last 24 hours in Morocco, the health ministry announced Saturday.

The new assessment brings to 480,948 the total number of infections since the first case reported last March, and to 464,043 that of fully recovered people, a cure rate of 96.5%, the ministry said in its daily bulletin on the situation of Covid-19.

The total number of deaths has risen to 8,548, with 8 new deaths recorded in 24 hours, a lethality rate of 1.8%. The number of tests carried out is 9,972.

As of today, 2,447,716 people have already received the first dose of the vaccine in Morocco and 13,476 have received the second dose.

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

February 19, 2021

Rabat: Call for Protests this Friday against the refoulement of migrants to the South

The Association of Sub-Saharan Migrants for the Defence of Human Rights and Dignity (AMSDH) has launched an appeal to participate in a protest, scheduled for this Friday at 1.30 pm in front of the Moroccan Parliament in Rabat. In a press release, the organisation denounced today “the unbearable living conditions of migrants of sub-Saharan descent”, who are subject to refoulement to the southern provinces.

The NGO deplores the fact that “for more than eight months, migrants residing in the big cities in the north of the country in general and in the city of Rabat in particular have been victims of arrests and manhunts”. “In the form of facial checks exclusively targeting the community of black migrants who are captured like wild animals by people often in civilian clothes and sometimes identified as local thugs”, says the association.

The association describes practices that catch migrants off guard when confronted with these individuals. “Whoever jumps on them in the event of legitimate resistance is beaten up and then handed over to the auxiliary forces or the police where they are kept for a few hours and then sent back to the cities of the south”, states the document, co-signed with the Réseau Afrique migration intégration (RAMI) and the Plateforme migrant Maroc (PLAFOMIMA).

These practices affect “two and four times” the same person, “sometimes in the same month, to the point where the migrants who have now been subject to these practices remain locked up in their homes, afraid of being stopped on their way back in the evening after a tiring day to find themselves in the crowded buses heading south in the middle of COVID-19, exposed to the cold”. In this sense, the AMSDH called for “an immediate halt to this campaign” and requested “an unconditional renewal of the residence permits of migrants in possession of and unable to meet the conditions for renewal”.

At the same time, the association also appealed to King Mohamed VI to “launch a new exceptional regularisation campaign in order to restore the lost dignity of undocumented migrants who arrived after the previous regularisation campaigns”.

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

February 18, 2021

“Where are Salif and Moussa”: in Morocco, the ordinary arrest of two sub-Saharan migrants

Lined up against a wall, two sub-Saharan migrants are checked by policemen, then an altercation ensues between one of them and a policeman: the video of this scene, which took place on 28 January in a working class district of Rabat, was transmitted to us by a sub-Saharan migrant worried about the fate of his two friends, who have not given any news since their arrest. In the cities of northern Morocco, particularly Rabat, the Moroccan police regularly arrest migrants, who are then moved away from the border with Spain.
These arrests are sometimes violent, according to the Moroccan Human Rights Association (AMDH). In Rabat, these operations generally take place in working-class neighbourhoods where there is a large sub-Saharan community, particularly in the neighbourhoods of Takadoum, Massira and Yakoub El Mansour.

“This type of arrest is almost daily in Morocco”.

The scene took place on January 28th, around 5 pm, in the Takadoum district, at 6 Bizanta Street. A woman, also a sub-Saharan neighbour, filmed the scene.
We were a group of four friends. When the two agents of the Auxiliary Force [editor’s note: the security corps responsible for supporting the work of the Moroccan police and gendarmerie] arrived. I managed to escape with a friend. But the other two, Salif and Moussa [pseudonyms] were not so lucky. They were arrested.
I haven’t heard from my two friends since their arrest, and they are unreachable on the phone.
It is not known whether they were turned back towards the Algerian border or taken to prison, as there was an altercation with one of the police officers.

This kind of arrest is almost a daily occurrence in Morocco. Even migrants who are in a regular situation and who have a residence card or refugee status do not escape them.
The Observateurs’ editorial team tried to contact the Rabat police station to find out more about the fate of the two migrants arrested. We will publish their response if we receive it.

“They are often victims of racist insults, beaten and stripped of their personal belongings, telephones, money…”.

The video of the interpellation was also relayed by the AMDH. Omar Nadji, vice-president of the Nador section (city in the north-east of the country) of the association, denounces arbitrary arrests.

There have been no mass arrests of migrants recently, but there are daily arrests, especially in Rabat. Sub-Saharans are arrested for no reason in the street, without having done anything, which is unacceptable.
What is happening is that the authorities are trying to keep them away from certain regions in the north to prevent them from trying to reach Spain by sea, or by jumping over the barriers in the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. They are put on buses and taken to cities in the interior of the country, such as Beni Mellal or Marrakech.
Often they are victims of racist insults, beaten and stripped of their personal belongings, telephones, money, etc.
Migrants are also sometimes deported to the town of Tiouli, 50 kilometres from the town of Oujda, near the Algerian border. There, they are forced to cross the Algerian border. Usually, they stay there for a few months to work and collect some money, and then return to Morocco.
Morocco is a crossing point for thousands of sub-Saharan migrants who try to reach Europe via the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, or recently, via the Canary Islands.
Many report being victims of racism and police violence. In addition to the capital Rabat, Moroccan police regularly carry out raids in the forests near Tangier, where migrants live in hiding while trying to reach the Spanish coast via the Strait of Gibraltar.
In July 2020, a Cameroonian migrant was killed after police dismantled an illegal camp in a forest north of Tangier.

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

February 16, 2021

Several labs mobilised to identify the variants of the coronavirus in Morocco

Continuing its genomic watch on the new SARS-CoV2 coronavirus, the Ministry of Health has set up a consortium of laboratories with a functional sequencing platform.

This consortium is composed of the Laboratoire de Référence de la Grippe et des Virus Respiratoires of the Institut National d’Hygiène, the Laboratoire de BioTechnologie Médicale of the Faculté de Médecine et de Pharmacie de Rabat and the Plateforme Génomique Fonctionnelle of the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique; in addition to the Institut Pasteur of Casablanca.

The main mission of this network of laboratories is to identify the SARS-CoV2 variants circulating in Morocco and to characterise them by genomic sequencing.

The sequencing of SARS-CoV2 strains, collected from various public and private laboratories including mobile laboratories and laboratories on board ships carrying passengers from Europe to Morocco, is carried out on a continuous basis between the consortium laboratories.

Any foreign variant is declared to the competent directorates and a press release is published by the Ministry of Health to inform on the type of variant detected and the measures taken to stop its propagation.

The sequencing of COVID-19 virus strains began in our country in June 2020. Indeed, the first results published by the National Institute of Hygiene in July 2020 showed that the strains circulating in Morocco came from European countries and that no correlation between the mutations detected and lethality was demonstrated.

In 18 January 2021, the National Institute of Hygiene declared the presence of the English duvariant SARS-CoV2 in a Moroccan returning from Ireland. Two other members of his family were wearing the same variant. All 3 individuals were treated in accordance with current health protocols.

The consortium of laboratories continues to sequence the strains from the different laboratories and to date none of the Brazilian or South African variants have been detected in our country.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Health reminds citizens that the COVID-19 virus continues to be prevalent in the country and reiterates its appeal to all citizens to strictly comply with preventive measures, wearing protective masks, maintaining physical distance, washing hands regularly and avoiding gatherings, urging the elderly or chronically ill to exercise extra caution.

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

February 15, 2021

COVID-19: Who should not be vaccinated?

The vaccination campaign is in full swing in Morocco. For the moment, it concerns people over 65 years of age, in addition to the medical, security and teaching staff. However, vaccination of seniors comes with its share of questions, particularly those relating to the eligibility of people suffering from chronic diseases.
In addition, the future expansion of the target population to include younger people will highlight the eligibility of pregnant women and people with asthma or allergies for vaccination. TelQuel takes stock.

No contraindications for chronic diseases

On the website dedicated to the vaccination campaign in Morocco liqahcorona, the Ministry of Health is trying to clarify certain issues. Concerning chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer or HIV, there are no contraindications, says the ministry. On the contrary, these people are a priority, according to Dr Tayeb Hamdi. Contacted by TelQuel, the doctor and health policy and systems researcher tells us that the protection of this category of people is the main purpose of all the health restrictions put in place over the past year.

He adds that “the people who should not be vaccinated are well known and generally well guided by their treating doctors. We are talking about patients with severe forms of immune disease, these are very rare and well-informed cases. Finally, people temporarily suffering from acute illnesses, such as high fever, and those undergoing treatments that affect the immune system should have their doctor’s approval and not be vaccinated immediately”.

Lack of studies on pregnant women and children

According to the liqahcorona platform, pregnant or breastfeeding women are not eligible for vaccination against Covid by the two vaccines available in Morocco. If a woman discovers she is pregnant after starting a vaccination cycle, she must complete her pregnancy before completing the recommended programme, the site says. Women who are trying to get pregnant do not need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination.

Dr Tayeb Hamdi, a doctor and researcher in health policy and systems, says that “pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid getting vaccinated, for the moment, because we still do not have the results of studies on this category of people. However, he adds, “there are probably women in their first weeks of pregnancy who don’t know this and who are vaccinated around the world, and there will be some in Morocco as well. We’ll wait until we have the findings of their cases in the next few weeks”. Finally, concerning obese or asthmatic pregnant women, “they may be eligible for vaccination, on a case-by-case basis, always according to the assessment of the attending physician”.
On the question of vaccinating children, Tayeb Hamdi believes that in the absence of studies on the youngest children, it is impossible for them to be covered by the campaign. “For all scientific studies, we always start with adults. Only Pfizer has included teenagers over 16 in its research. It is impossible today to talk about vaccinating children.” He added: “The risk of children developing the disease is low, they are not contaminants. Vaccination of children will be carried out in the last resort in the event of non-attainment of herd immunity. This is a decision that must be taken in the light of the results of new studies that will be carried out in the coming months”.

Allergy issue divides countries

Seasonal and food allergies are not contraindications to vaccination against the virus, according to the liqahcorona platform. However, people who have had previous serious reactions, such as anaphylaxis, to drugs or vaccines should not receive the vaccine, insists Tayeb Hamdi.
“Once again, these are people who are aware of their allergic condition and who are generally well monitored by specialist doctors. When we talk about allergy as a factor in ineligibility for the vaccine, we are not talking about mild cases, food allergies for example. The only difference for these people is that they are monitored for 30 minutes after the injection, and not 15 minutes as is the case for others,” the specialist points out. It should be noted that a second dose should not be given to anyone who has experienced anaphylaxis after the first dose of this vaccine.
The health policy and systems researcher points out, however, that the protocol for allergic people differs from one country to another and according to the type of vaccine used: “The United States, for example, relies mainly on the Pfizer vaccine, which is made up of allergenic materials. Allergic people are therefore logically not very targeted by the vaccination campaign, unlike in Great Britain where they are included in the target population”.

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

February 13, 2021

Morocco expects to achieve collective immunity within 3 to 5 months.

To date, the vaccination campaign has involved more than one million Moroccans. Depending on the pace of the operation so far, the objective over the next 3 to 5 months is to vaccinate around 30 million people, i.e. 80% of the population, and to achieve herd immunity.
Morocco aims to complete the vaccination operation in the next three to five months, in order to achieve herd immunity and ensure a return to normal life, Health Minister Khalid Ait Taleb said Friday in Beni Mellal.
In a statement to MAP, on the sidelines of his visit to several vaccination centres in the region of Beni Mellal-Khenifra on the occasion of the launch of the national vaccination campaign, Ait Taleb explained that following the pace with which the vaccination operation is taking place so far and in accordance with the plan outlined for its implementation, the objective to be achieved over the next 3 to 5 months is to vaccinate around 30 million Moroccan citizens, i.e. 80% of the population, and to achieve herd immunity, thus reducing the negative effects induced by the spread of the pandemic and ensuring a return to normal life.

Morocco, (…) has been able, since the launch of the national vaccination campaign a fortnight ago, to provide all the logistical, technical and organizational means and to acquire very large quantities of two types of vaccine against covid, said the Health Minister, stressing that the vaccination operation is taking place “under favorable conditions”.
The first African country to launch a vaccination campaign against COVID-19, Morocco is rightly among the first countries in the world “to develop a proactive, bold and pioneering strategy to immunize its citizens against the effects of this deadly virus,” Spanish media said.
In this regard, the minister of health mentioned that the vaccination operation has so far involved more than a million Moroccan citizens, adding that this rate is increasing as more batches of vaccine are expected to be delivered, since the operation to administer the second dose of the vaccine will begin next Friday.
The visit to the region of Beni Mellal is part of the monitoring of the progress of the national vaccination campaign, and to ensure the success of this important operation to return to normal life and overcome the repercussions caused by the spread of the virus, he said.
On the other hand, and on the subject of other types of virus, the minister explained that Morocco is conducting a thorough genomic surveillance of any new strain of this virus through four centres that submit a weekly report in this regard, deploring the recent registration of three cases of the British variant in Morocco, refuting, however, the detection in the Kingdom of any other strain, including the South African one.

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