From the end of December 2019 till now, the world has been plagued with the spread of coronavirus. To that effect, different countries and also world or organizations have been on their toes to see that they stop the spread and mortality rate of the coronavirus. Morocco was one such country. The government of Morocco, led by King Mohammed VI, fought and is still fighting to make sure that the spread of this virus is stopped. According to research, Morocco is the 10th leading country in the world and the first in Africa that has been effective and consistent in its efforts to curb COVID-19. In this article, we will be looking at a brief history of COVID-19 in Morocco and some of the efforts the Moroccan government has made to effectively stop the spread of this viral disease.
A brief history of coronavirus in the world
Coronavirus also popularly called COVID-19 was first discovered in Wuhan, China in December 2019. It is a severe acute respiratory syndrome that affects the lungs and can lead to pulmonary failure. Most times, it comes with mild to moderate respiratory illness and the patients recover without any special treatment. It is mostly transmitted by human-to-human contact. By February, the virus has spread to almost all parts of the world and on 11 of March 2020, the WHO declared this global uproar a pandemic. By then, it had spread to almost all countries and all the continents of the world except Antarctica.
History of coronavirus in Morocco
The first case of Coronavirus infection was recorded on the 2nd day of March 2020 in Casablanca. It was a case of a citizen coming in from Italy. As of March, the virus has spread to almost all parts of the country. So far, the country has recorded over 511,564 confirmed cases with 490,366 people out of 511,564 cases recovering and 9,026 deaths. Presently, there are fewer than 5000 active cases.
Measures put in place by the government to curb the spread of coronavirus
From March till now, the government has been working round the clock to stop the spread of this virus. Using different means and policies and taking drastic measures that affect all areas of the economy of the country ranging from tourism to education to transportation.
By the 13th day of March 2020, Morocco had to place a travel restriction suspending passenger flight and ferry crossings to and from three countries, Algeria, Spain, and France. Then on the next day, 14 more countries were added to the list of the travel ban: Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chad, Denmark, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Jordan, Lebanon, Mali, Mauritania, Netherlands, Niger, Norway, Oman, Portugal, Senegal, Switzerland, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey, and the UAE.
By the 15th of March, all flights were suspended. The travel restrictions were later lifted by June but not without airports maintaining strict COVID-19 protocol on the passengers coming into the country before they can be allowed to mingle with the inhabitants of Morocco.
The government also shut down schools from March 16. Learning had to be done online. The ban restricting the opening of schools has been lifted. However, some places like Dakhla had to be locked down again because of the rising cases of coronavirus infection.
The government declared a health state of emergency all over the country, so workers had to be restricted from working and some had to work from home. Only the rest of the workers who couldn’t work from home and who the economy couldn’t do without had to be allowed to work. Such essential workers included health workers, food suppliers, and so on. Social gatherings were also restricted.
In April of 2020, the government granted a pardon to 5,654 prisoners to decongest the prisons and avoid the spread of coronavirus in them.
Also in April, the country made a decree on creating emergency funds to be able to manage the pandemic and procured up-to-date medical equipment. The funds were also used to buy food materials to deliver to her citizens and inhabitants that were affected by this virus. Over Dh 33billion (about $3.6 billion) was made.
Furthermore, the ministry of health developed a set of medical protocols for COVID-19 patients and also provided an up-to-date epidemiological study based on an electronic information system.
The government also made sure that false information about the virus was not spread to her citizens by making sure to arrest anyone found to be giving them.
The government provided funds to small, medium, and micro-scale enterprises to help them save their businesses.
In the area of vaccination, Morocco is a massive success story, especially when compared to their oil-rich neighbors, Algeria. As of August 2020, Morocco had started making plans to establish contacts with some leading laboratories to enable them to make orders for vaccines. This dialogue was done by the diplomatic corps. By the 8th of January, 2021, the country had ordered 65 million doses of the vaccine; 25 million doses of the British AstraZeneca vaccine, and 40 million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine. They also later ordered 8 million doses of the Russian Sputnik vaccine. Morocco so far has received a total of 25 million doses of the vaccine and has vaccinated over 5 million of the population with at least 4 million having the second dosage. The government aims to vaccinate as many people although it is being limited by the number of vaccine doses available in the global inventory.
Morocco has been very effective and actively involved in making sure that the virus doesn’t spread quickly. Their efforts should be commended and emulated by other African countries. However, they should not relent in their efforts as there is still a lot to be done especially with the outbreak of a new variant of COVID in Dakhla.