Morocco is entering a new phase in its fight against coronavirus as the Health and Interior Ministry told Moroccans in a joint statement on March 18, to limit their movements and begin home isolation.
“These preventative measures are necessary in this delicate phase, to stop the spread of novel coronavirus,” the press release said.
Moroccans will only be able to leave isolation to make essential grocery purchases, get medical help or go to work.
Morocco’s tally of confirmed coronavirus cases rose to 49 on Wednesday, March 18, said the Ministry of Health. The five new cases were identified in people who had traveled from overseas.
The new cases include two Moroccans who returned to Casablanca from Spain, a Moroccan man in Meknes who had traveled to Egypt and two French tourists now in isolation at an Agadir hospital. All patients are quarantined and receiving medical care as per Morocco’s disease prevention measures.
The North African country has reported two deaths from the virus so far, and one full recovery. Both fatalities were elderly people who suffered from existing health conditions.
The virus remains in “phase 1” according to health authorities, who say that at present all identified cases have come from overseas and community transmission has not been reported, yet.
Local law enforcement, the Sureté National and Gendarmerie Royale, “will be charged with guiding citizens to respect the introduction of the new measures made in the interests of all Moroccans.”
The communique reassured Moroccans that the necessities of daily life would still be available and that the country has adequate stocks of food and fuel available across the country.
International flights are now suspended, with the exception of extra repatriation flights but they are also scheduled to end on Thursday. Taxis are taking fewer passengers to ensure social distancing but it is not yet clear if public transport will be shut down completely.
The new measures to deal with the “exceptional circumstances” created by the coronavirus pandemic, come after a quasi-shutdown forced Mosques, cafes, restaurants, entertainment venues, hammams to close on Monday, March 16.
MAP reports two café owners in Tanger have already been arrested for contravening the order. The government has also launched a campaign to disinfect public spaces and transport.
Moroccan parliamentarians joined the economic response to the pandemic and announced they would donate their monthly salaries to the King Mohammad VI Special Fund for the Management and Response of COVID-19 on Tuesday, March 17.
King Mohammed VI created the $1 billion fund on March 15 to deal with the economic and social fall-out from the virus.
The King oversaw, in person, a working session on preventative measures to halt the spread of COVID-19 on Tuesday, March 17. He instructed the Inspector General of the Royal Armed Forces (FAR) to place fully-equipped medical centers across the country at the Health Minister’s disposal. Those present were instructed to ensure the continued flow of goods and services, and be prepared to take all measures to deal with the disease outbreak.