April 13- April 20, 2021 | Press Review Morocco

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Photo: John S. on Flickr

20 April, 2021

Lack of physical activity increases the risk of severe forms of coronavirus

The risk of severe forms of COVID-19 is strongly associated with a sedentary lifestyle with insufficient physical activity, according to a new US study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The study, which looked at some 50,000 adults affected by Covid-19, found that those who met the US Department of Health and Human Services’ physical activity guidelines of at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week had significantly lower incidences of hospitalisation, intensive care admissions and death from the coronavirus. The guidelines, which are the same as those of the World Health Organization (WHO), are based on research confirming the ability of physical activity to boost immune function, reduce systemic inflammation and improve lung, cardiovascular and mental health.

Given all these benefits of regular sporting activity, it is perhaps not surprising that sport also reduces the severity of COVID-19 symptoms, it is pointed out. Indeed, the acute form of the coronavirus is just one of the many potential negative impacts of a sedentary lifestyle, a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, stroke and certain cancers.

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

The generalisation of social protection, a medium to integrate the informal sector

The project to generalise social protection, launched last Wednesday by HM King Mohammed VI, is a medium to integrate the informal sector into the national economic fabric, said economist Driss Effina. This project, which will ensure the protection of the working class and its rights, also represents a decisive turning point on the road to achieving sustainable and balanced development, Effina said in a statement to MAP. It is a large-scale strategic project, awaited for years and which constitutes “a step towards reducing the gaps between the different Moroccan social categories”, in addition to being at the centre of the Sovereign’s concerns since his accession to the Throne, Effina said.

He continued: “In the context of the aid that has been distributed to families to mitigate the effects of the health crisis linked to COVID-19, it has been noted that a total of nearly 5 million households come from the informal sector and live in very vulnerable conditions. In this sense, this Royal orientation comes to allow certain categories to also access the same social benefits that other categories enjoy”. Mr. Effina also indicated that this project, which will initially benefit farmers, craftsmen and professionals, traders, professionals and independent service providers subject to the single professional contribution regime, the self-employment regime or the accounting regime, has several strategic objectives.

Indeed, the 22 million additional beneficiaries will, thanks to this social coverage, protect themselves against various risks (illness, loss of employment, ageing, etc.), he explained, noting that these risks weigh heavily on the families concerned. The economist also stressed the need to intensify training programmes and the consolidation of medical skills of health professionals so that they can meet the demand, which will increase at a rapid pace with the implementation of this major societal project. It is also a question of reinforcing medical infrastructures by opening up to the private sector and national medical capacities and of fighting against the deficit in terms of health executives, which is necessary for the success of this reform, through the opening up of the practice of medicine to foreign skills, the encouragement of international health establishments to work and invest in Morocco, and the capitalisation on successful experiences.

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

April 19, 2021 

Here are the dates of the Baccalaureate exams

The Minister of National Education announced on Monday 19 April the timetable for the Baccalaureate exams.

The tests of the unified national baccalaureate exam 2020-2021 will take place from 8 to 12 June, announced Monday the Ministry of National Education, Vocational Training, Higher Education and Scientific Research, adding that the unified regional exam (1st year baccalaureate) will take place from 27 May to 1 June.

The tests of the scientific, technical and professional branches of the national exam are scheduled between 8 and 10 June, while the literary and original education branches will take place on 11 and 12 June, the same source said.

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

COVID-19: Why Morocco still lacks self-testing

From a distance it looks like a pregnancy test, one line if negative, two lines if positive. The COVID-19 self-test is an alternative to the PCR test. Especially since the latter has a clinical reliability of 80% in case of symptoms (headache, runny nose, fatigue, shortness of breath).

Unlike an RT-PCR test which looks for the RNA of the virus, or a serological test which looks for antibodies, the antigenic self-test attempts to detect the presence of the virus protein. The principle is the same as the nasopharyngeal test, except that it is not necessary to go so deep into the pharynx: a 2 to 4 cm plunge into the nostril is enough to obtain a result.

After taking the sample, you simply place the swab in a solution provided with the kit and place a drop of this liquid on the test cassette. Within 15 minutes, all doubts about your COVID-19 infection are virtually eliminated. By repeating the procedure 2 to 3 times during the development of the disease, you will obtain a virtually safe and reliable result.

The price of these self-tests sold in pharmacies in Europe varies between 5 and 10 euros, i.e. between 55 and 110 dirhams for a screening kit. And 30 euros, or approximately 330 dirhams, for a box of five self-tests.

The reference in Morocco remains the PCR test. However, in private laboratories, its cost can vary between 500 and 900 dirhams, a financial barrier for the majority of the population. Contacted by TelQuel, Masterlab, a company specialising in the import and distribution of medical equipment in Rabat, explains that the solution of resorting to self-tests has not yet been considered: “To import and set up new Covid tests, we need the authorisation of the high authorities of health in Morocco, except that for the moment, this is not in the immediate reflection“, they explain. Other professionals in the sector point to the “extreme slowness” of the procedures for requesting authorisation from the Directorate of Medicines and Pharmacy (DMP), which is attached to the Ministry of Health.

“If the self-test is put on sale at 200 dirhams, it won’t change much. The financial barrier will always be there “Tayeb Hamdi, vice-president of the National Health Federation

While the Ministry of Health did not respond to our requests, for Tayeb Hamdi, vice-president of the National Health Federation, these self-tests can be a good indicator, but they are far from being a miracle solution. “The problem is that for those who can’t afford to do the PCR, if the self-test is put on sale at 200 dirhams, it won’t make much difference. The financial barrier will always be there,” he says. Then, on the epidemiological level, the difficulty will be the traceability of positive people: how to know if the positive person is going to report to the health authorities? “

The price of a PCR test in a laboratory varies from 500 to 900 dirhams. “Howeverthese tests now have a scientific value,” continues Tayeb Hamdi. From a health point of view, they could allow people who wish to be tested to remove an ambiguity. Moreover, I say this at a time when the epidemiological situation is relatively under control, but if tomorrow there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in Morocco, it will be a completely different story. In that case, these tests could be very useful. 

For all countries in the world, PCR sampling remains the only test considered “reliable” despite the fact that there is a margin of false positives and false negatives. The other alternatives remain support solutions to the epidemic. The argument often put forward in favour of PCR is its great capacity for traceability. It allows health institutions to keep track of the number of cases per day, as laboratories have access to the results data. But is the self-test really untraceable?

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

Oxford Business Group publishes report on Morocco’s digital transformation

Oxford Business Group publishes a new report in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing entirely on digital transformation in Morocco. 

As part of the COVID-19 Response Reports (CRR) series, which aims to analyse the various facets of the economy of emerging countries in the light of the challenges posed by the current health crisis, this new study looks at the impact of technology on Moroccan society and economy, showing how the use of these technologies has enabled the kingdom to get through the crisis and offering avenues for future development through an acceleration of the digital transformation. The economic intelligence firm was supported by its partner, the Digital Development Agency (ADD), as well as other companies in the sector.

Presented in a clear and accessible format, combining key data and analysis, and illustrated with numerous infographics, the report also includes an interview with the CEO of the Agence de Développement du Digital (ADD) Mohammed Drissi Melyani, who discusses the impact of the pandemic on digital administration in Morocco, the effects of digital technology on human development and social inclusion, and cyber security. The report also includes case studies from the following companies: SAP, Wilo, CBI, Genious, Ideo Factory, Webhelp and Pandora Box.

The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated the need for increased digitalisation, but Morocco did not wait until 2020 to begin its digital transformation. Started a decade ago, the latter has been accelerated by means of major government initiatives, Horizon 2020, launched in 2017, and then Horizon 2025, which have set ambitious objectives in terms of e-government and training of young people in new technologies. These efforts had already borne fruit at the beginning of 2020, when Morocco was ranked fourth among the Digital Risers in the MENA region by the European Centre for Digital Competitiveness.

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

COVID-19 and mental health in Morocco

The findings are clear. The COVID-19 epidemic has had a serious impact on the mental health of Moroccans. The proof. Consultations have increased by 50%. And the sale of psychotropic drugs has exploded. We dive into the heart of a disease that has not yet revealed all its secrets.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic appeared a little over a year ago, the sale of psychotropic drugs, medicines intended to treat or relieve psychological disorders, has risen sharply. Mehdi El Berray, a pharmacist in Tamaris, just outside Casablanca, confirms this. “We have noted an increase of 30% to 50% in the sale of drugs for depression and anxiety,” he explains after carefully consulting his figures.

This trend clearly demonstrates that COVID-19 has had, and continues to have, devastating effects on the morale and mental state of Moroccans. And Professor Hashem Thyal will not contradict this. “We are beginning to see more and more cases or mental patients who consider that their problem started with Covid-19,” says the Casablanca psychiatrist, founder of one of the largest specialised clinics in the metropolis.

It is therefore certain that since the outbreak of the epidemic in Morocco in March 2020, Moroccans have suffered a lot psychologically. “We are seeing more and more consultations for anxiety disorders, depressive disorders and delusional psychosis around COVID-19,” says Hashem Thyal.

Explosion in the number of ‘first-timers

After the period of strict confinement that took place in Morocco between March and June 2020, many Moroccans found themselves obliged to take the plunge and knock on the door of a psychiatrist. And for many of them, for the first time in their lives. “You can’t even imagine how many people have told me personally that they are coming to see a psychiatrist for the first time and that they have never been to one before,” says the assistant of a well-known psychiatrist in Casablanca.

This shows the extent to which Covid-19 has caused Moroccans to lose their psychological balance. The change in life habits, social distancing, not seeing one’s family, one’s parents, isolation, fear of an uncertain tomorrow, mourning, not knowing when the epidemic and its “nightmare” will end… These are all consequences of this pandemic that affect the mind.

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

April 18, 2021

Foreign doctors will be able to practice in Morocco

The future generalisation of social protection, which will eventually cover 22 million people currently without health insurance, will require medical human resources for its implementation. Morocco, which is facing a shortage of practitioners, has decided to open its health sector to foreign skills and foreign investment.

Foreign doctors will soon be able to practice in Morocco. This is a first. The information is significant but has almost gone unnoticed. However, the announcement was made by Mohamed Benchaaboun, during his speech to the Sovereign as part of the launch of the generalization of the social security system, on April 14, 2021, at the Royal Palace in Fez. The Minister of Economy, Finance and Administration Reform, said that the generalization of medical coverage requires taking up a set of challenges which concern in particular the low rate of medical supervision, the important deficit in human resources and their unequal geographical distribution. Thus, in order to fight against the deficit in terms of medical staff, the practice of medicine will be opened up to foreign skills and international health establishments will be encouraged to work and invest in Morocco.

It must be said that the Kingdom is still far from its objective of putting 3300 new doctors on the health market each year. In 2018, the country’s faculties of medicine and pharmacy trained only 2,282 doctors, compared to 1,715 in 2007, i.e. a 25% increase. Despite this significant increase, there is a backlog of 1,018 doctors to catch up on. This deficit is growing due to emigration, mainly to France, retirement and early retirement. More than 8,000 Moroccan doctors born in the Kingdom are currently working in France. According to a study by the National Council of the Order of Physicians in France, Moroccan-born practitioners represent the second largest community of foreign-born doctors.

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

The variant that appeared in India could be more contagious (WHO official)

The COVID-19 variant that emerged in India, B.1.617, could lead to “increased transmissibility” or even “reduced neutralisation” because of specific mutations it contains, a World Health Organisation (WHO) official said on Saturday.

The B.1.617 variant, which first appeared in India on 7 December 2020, according to the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG), has two specific mutations, E484Q and L452R, which have been detected in more contagious variants worldwide, Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s COVID-19 technical officer, told a news conference.

“Having two of these mutations, which have been seen in other variants around the world, is of concern because there is a similarity in these mutations that confer increased transmissibility, and some of these mutations also result in reduced neutralisation, which can impact our countermeasures, including vaccines,” she explained.

The official also noted that the variant was spreading to other countries and had been reported “throughout Asia and North America”. However, the “double mutant” variant first detected in India is still considered a “variant of interest” by the WHO, which means that it does not warrant stronger public health measures at this time.

The Indian Ministry of Health has also recently indicated that the variant could increase infection rates and bypass immune defences.

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

COVID-19: People with chronic diseases, how to get vaccinated

Stroke, diabetes, cancer, severe asthma, severe hypertension… people with chronic diseases can be vaccinated. How does the vaccination of these most vulnerable people take place? The route.

People with chronic diseases (including malignant diseases) can be vaccinated against COVID-19. While it is fairly easy to identify people aged 60 and over (currently eligible for vaccination), it is less clear who is considered a “chronic disease carrier”.

Who is concerned?

People suffering from chronic diseases must benefit from compulsory medical coverage schemes (CNOPS, CNSS) and RAMED, in order to be vaccinated. In detail, these are people with cancer and malignant haematological diseases undergoing chemotherapy, people with severe chronic kidney disease (including dialysis patients)… 

According to the National Survey on Population and Family Health (ENPSF-2018) conducted by the Directorate of Planning and Financial Resources of the Ministry of Health, 21% of the Moroccan population has at least one chronic disease, and that women are the most affected with 24.9% against 17.1% for men. “The most frequent chronic diseases are cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers and chronic respiratory diseases, psychological and psychiatric disorders and emerging and re-emerging diseases, notably public health emergencies of international concern,” the study says.

How to make an appointment?

You must first be recognised as a carrier of a chronic disease. The beneficiary of compulsory medical coverage schemes (CNOPS, CNSS) must submit a request for entitlement to a “long-term illness (ALD)” or “heavy and costly illness (ALC)” to his or her fund, which is available from the CNSS /CNOPS or from health professionals, duly completed, sealed and signed by the attending physician with a confidential envelope prepared by the attending physician containing the supporting documents (necessary examinations – radiology, biology -, a photocopy of the registration card of the insured person to whom the beneficiary is attached, a photocopy of the beneficiary’s national identity card if he or she is over 18 years old).

Once the application has been accepted, the person with a chronic disease can send a text message to the free number 1717 or visit the liqahcorona.ma website to find out the date of their appointment and their place of vaccination.

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

April 16, 2021

COVID-19 pandemic: Morocco suspends flights to 13 new European countries

The National Airports Office (ONDA) has announced that Morocco has suspended flights to and from 13 new European countries. This decision is effective from Friday 16 April until further notice.

This suspension, decided in the framework of the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, concerns: Albania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia. The ONDA specifies that “passengers travelling from this country through another” country are also affected by this decision.

It should be recalled that during the same week Morocco suspended flights to and from Tunisia from 15 April until further notice.

A week earlier, Morocco decided to suspend flights to and from 17 countries until 21 May, namely Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Turkey, England, Egypt, Algeria, Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, Guinea-Conakry, Mali and Ghana.

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

Ramadan: are fasting and vaccination compatible?

As the pace of the vaccination campaign quickens, following the receipt of a new batch of vaccines at the start of Ramadan, some people are wondering whether fasting and vaccination are compatible.

After a slowdown due to a delay in vaccine deliveries, the pace of the national vaccination strategy against COVID-19 is again accelerating. The number of people who have received the first dose of vaccine has risen to 4,495,477, while 4,155,395 others have been injected with the second dose, the Ministry of Health announced at the beginning of the week in its daily bulletin on the epidemiological situation.

In addition, the medical teams are being called upon to double their efforts. This new situation is explained, among other things, by the receipt of a batch of 300,000 doses of anti-COVID-19 vaccine. However, this “remontada” raises questions because of the advent of the month of Ramadan.

Indeed, many people wonder whether fasting and vaccination are compatible. Can an injection be considered as nutrition? “No”, answers Dr. Tayeb Hamdi, who believes that those who observe fasting can indeed be vaccinated. Better still, according to the specialist, taking a dose of the anti-Covid vaccine does not require any particular precautions in terms of food, neither before nor after. “Vaccination and fasting are perfectly compatible,” he insists, before urging his compatriots not to let fasting prevent them from being vaccinated against COVID-19. In the coming days, the pace of the vaccination campaign should accelerate further with the expected arrival, between April and May, of 1.6 million doses of vaccine under the Covax scheme. In addition, during the same period, 10 million doses of Sinopharm vaccine will be received in two deliveries, out of a total of 40.5 million.

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

Virtual racism: Fighting the problem through awareness-raising

Because of the remarkable platform they offer, their global audience and their participatory nature, social networks are among the main vehicles for diversity and pluralism. However, when misused for hateful purposes, these same networks, because of their multiplier effect, can give rise to racist, xenophobic and even misogynistic abuse. Since the beginning of the health crisis linked to the coronavirus pandemic, the number of users of social networks has exploded, according to the latest international data and trends unveiled by the “Digital Report 2021”, which reports 490 million new users between January 2020 and January 2021 out of a total of 4.2 billion users (+13.2%).

The restrictions and episodes of confinement imposed on millions, if not billions of people have had the effect of migrating angry debates to the virtual space, favouring in the process a change in online behaviour, in the sense that trolls or other malicious Internet users (supremacist groups, conspiracy theorists, supporters of extreme opinions, etc.) are now legion and, above all, more visible. Also, the trivialisation of hate speech on the networks is favoured by the cover of anonymity and the feeling of impunity that comes with it. This was confirmed to MAP by Iliass Segame, a lawyer at the Casablanca bar. According to this lawyer who is closely interested in subjects at the intersection of law and digital, anonymity favours impunity and gives carte blanche to abuses on the web.

He stressed that “the communication tools made available to users by social network providers are unfortunately susceptible to misuse. For example, under the guise of anonymity, some malicious users take the liberty of uttering and relaying hateful and racist content. The world has witnessed a proliferation of hate, discrimination and racism in the context of the COVID-19 health crisis, Segame said, citing the example of attacks on Chinese and Asian citizens in the early days of the pandemic.

In his opinion, racist comments are present on the web. In the case of Morocco, however, “we are most often witnessing the expression, by certain Internet users, of a feeling of ‘superiority’ due to belonging to a certain social category or to certain families from particular regions”. This type of discourse does not have an “organised and structured form, or even a political form”, the lawyer assures, adding that “this phenomenon is not necessarily assimilated to racism”.

With regard to the means of combating racism on the web, this lawyer believes that social network providers play a fundamental role in regulating the content published on their platforms. “The latter are obliged to better regulate the content published on their platforms in a timely manner in order to act effectively, especially by ensuring that they do not promote hatred and racism,” he said.

For sociologist Mehdi Alioua, there is no scientific evidence that racist discourse is more present on social networks than it was ten or twenty years ago.

“The proliferation of this type of discourse cannot necessarily be measured today. On the other hand, what can be measured is the multiplication of exchanges on social media and the diversification of digital communication methods,” the sociologist who holds the Chair of Migration, Mobility and Cosmopolitanism at the International University of Rabat (UIR) told MAP. According to him, in all cultures there have always been words to describe people considered different from the imposed social norms.

For this astute observer of international migration, “unconsciously spouting hate speech in a café or during an altercation in the street is not the same thing as disseminating such speech on social media to potentially tens of thousands, perhaps even millions of people”. “Obviously, this kind of talk must be fought through awareness-raising by showing that the other is always someone else’s other,” says Alioua, highlighting the role of the values of miscegenation, coexistence and tolerance as a bulwark against hate speech in both the real and virtual worlds. Mixed race, coexistence, tolerance and hospitality have always been the fundamental values of Morocco to block racist remarks and attitudes, he asserts, saying he is in favour of strengthening the legal arsenal with specific laws on online racism.

In the opinion of Fatima-Zahra Quatabou, a young Moroccan activist, the global problem of racism on social networks is much deeper, as some users see the Internet as “a vent”. “They don’t realise the seriousness of what they are saying because they are hiding behind a screen. They reflect the huge challenges that need to be addressed to remedy this phenomenon,” notes the activist, who has set up a page on Instagram to raise awareness of the effects and seriousness of racism and hate speech.

For this engineer working in research and development (R&D), the combined efforts of state institutions and civil society, awareness of the seriousness of racism and the reactivity of Internet users against racist trolls would be able to create a positive dynamic to fight against this phenomenon on a global scale.

In short, the fight against virtual racism offers a wide field of action so that everyone can contribute to the building of a “spider’s web” favouring the acceptance of differences, in respect and sharing.

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

April 15, 2021

Here is why prayers of Tarawih is not obligatory

As a result of the pandemic, Prayers of Tarawih was banned again this year in Moroccan mosques, raising questions about its “supererogatory” nature.

From the eve of Ramadan onwards, Muslims perform the supererogatory tarawih prayers, in groups and at the mosque, to perpetuate a tradition, however, abandoned by the Prophet himself.

To understand the “non-obligatory” character of this rite, which is the main one for some faithful during the holy month, Medias24 sought the opinion of a theologist.

In the Arabic language, the word Tarawih is derived from ‘Raha’ meaning ‘rest’. It is used in the sense of pausing after 4 raka’at (units of prayer), then after another 4 and finally after 3 raka’at.

In Muslim practice, it refers to the night prayers of the month of Ramadan.

“These prayers are supererogatory, i.e. not obligatory, according to the Maliki rite,” explains a theologian.

“This prayer was indeed part of the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad, who performed it on only three nights of the holy month. He performed 8 raka’at each time.

Caliph Omar Ibn El Khattab revived this tradition by performing 20 raka’at every evening. The four madahib (classical schools of Sunni Muslim law) have also authorised the practice of tarawih, individually, at home or at the mosque, explains our source.

The public interest takes precedence

Due to the current epidemiological situation, linked to COVID-19, the preservation of life and the public interest take precedence, from the point of view of the Sharia, our source emphasises.

The controversy surrounding tarawih and the opening of mosques is neither religious nor reasonable. In the current context, it is a question of putting public interest before spiritual rites, concludes our source.

During Ramadan 2020, the first year of the pandemic, the Supreme Council of Ulema issued a fatwa in favour of performing Nawafil (supererogatory prayers) at home.

This year again, the Moroccan authorities have decreed a nightly curfew during the month of Ramadan. Since the announcement, the controversy has been growing around the authorisation of tarawih and the opening of mosques.

Unauthenticated images, some of which turned out to be fake, are making the rounds on the web. They show “worshippers performing tarawih in the street, despite the curfew”. In the case of the city of Fez, for example, old photos have emerged showing worshippers in the street, following the congestion of mosques, due to the large number of people attending these places during Ramadan.

During the first evening of the holy month, the authorities tightened controls in various cities to ensure compliance with the curfew, which includes a ban on gatherings in cafes, streets and mosques.

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

April 14, 2021

Morocco suspends air links with Tunisia

Tunisia has been added to the list of countries affected by the closure of Moroccan airspace. According to a publication by the National Airports Office (ONDA) on 13 April, the authorities have decided to suspend flights to and from Tunisia from 15 April 2021, until further notice. Passengers travelling from this country through another country are also affected.

40 countries involved

Tunisia joins the list of 39 countries with which Morocco has suspended air travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the emergence of new, much more contagious variants of the virus.

These are Mali, Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea-Conakry, Libya, Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Botswana, Cameroon, Croatia, Mozambique, Poland, Norway, Finland, Greece, Lebanon, Kuwait, Algeria, Egypt, Italy, Belgium, Turkey, Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, Austria, France, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Australia, Ireland, Brazil, New Zealand, United Kingdom, South Africa and Denmark.

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

Morocco suspends deportation flights of migrants from Canary Islands (EFE)

The deportation flights to Morocco of irregular migrants who have landed in the Canary Islands have been suspended by order of Morocco, the Spanish news agency EFE reported on Wednesday, with sources indicating that no date for the resumption of these flights is planned. According to the same source, 1,400 migrants have been deported since the launch of this operation in early December. 
This decision comes a few days after Morocco closed its airspace with Spain and France at midnight on 30 March. As a reminder, Royal Air Maroc – which exclusively operates these deportation flights – announced on 8 April that it would maintain the suspension of flights with 17 countries, including Spain, until 21 May. 
These deportation flights were taking place four times a week from Grand Canaria – and with some exceptions from Madrid – to Laayoune. Police sources have confirmed to EFE that “since 30 March, the systematic detention of Moroccan migrants in an irregular situation has been stopped, both on arrival in the Patera and later on the streets of the Canary Islands”. In 2020, 11,998 of the 23,023 irregular migrants who landed on the Canary Islands were of Moroccan nationality.

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

April 13, 2021

COVID-19: Night curfew during Ramadan is the only way to avoid a 3rd wave (Prof. Afif)

While the number of infections has been on the rise for several weeks, a new night-time curfew from 8pm to 6am has been announced for the month of Ramadan and specialists agree that Morocco is on the verge of experiencing the third wave of the epidemic in the Kingdom, particularly after the detection of the new British variant. How is the epidemiological situation developing? What about the relevance of these new restrictions decided by the government? My Said Afif, President of the Moroccan Society of Medical Sciences (SMSM) and of the National Federation of Health (FNS), and member of the National Technical Committee on Vaccination, explains.

 “At this stage, we cannot say that we are witnessing a third wave of the pandemic, but everyone must be vigilant not to reach that point, especially in the presence of the new British variant which is seven times more contagious than the so-called classic Covid,” said My Said Afif, who believes that the current situation has nothing to do with the second wave where thousands of cases of contamination and many deaths were recorded in Casablanca alone, especially the day after the Aid.

 “Despite the increase in infections, we are now seeing a remarkable decrease in Covid-19-related deaths, which is mainly explained by the vaccination of the over-75s, who made up the bulk of the deaths,” he adds.

However, the member of the National Technical Committee on Vaccination warns that a third wave can easily set in if preventive measures are not respected.

According to him, the nightly curfew during the holy month is the only way to avoid the third wave, or even a stricter confinement which will inevitably have repercussions on the epidemiological and economic situation of the country.

As a reminder, according to the SARS-CoV2 genomic monitoring system set up by the Ministry of Health, the British variant has been detected in seven regions of the Kingdom and at the end of the week, some 115 cases of contamination with this new variant were recorded. 

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