Moroccan authorities decided to repatriate a group of 167 Moroccans from Wuhan, Central China, amid the new coronavirus outbreak.
The director of epidemiology and control against diseases at the Ministry of Health, Mohamed Youbi, told the press on Sunday, February 2: “Over the next couple of days, we will take samples of virological examinations in a laboratory.”
The tests will ensure that the group “do not carry the virus in question,” he added.
The health official made the announcement after 97 Moroccans from Wuhan arrived at Sidi Said hospital in Meknes.
On the weekend of February 1-2, Moroccan authorities repatriated a group of 167 Moroccans from Wuhan, including 52 women, after China put the city on lockdown to slow down the spread of the new coronavirus.
After their plane landed in Benslimane, near Casablanca, authorities separated the Moroccans into two groups before moving them to medical facilities.
The first group of 97 Moroccans, went to Sidi Said hospital in Meknes, while the rest, have been placed in quarantine at the virology center of the Mohammed V military hospital in Rabat.
So far, “everything is going according to plan,” added Youbi, noting that the “returnees are well settled in the rooms of this newly-renovated hospital.”
“All of the hospital’s facilities and equipment are new, including the accommodation, to ensure the comfort and safety of our fellow citizens and their families,” reassured the official.
All actors in the repatriation operation, including the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of the Interior, the Royal Armed Forces, and the Royal Gendarmerie, coordinated their efforts “perfectly,” commended Youbi.
Meanwhile, the head of the virology center laboratory at the Mohammed VI military hospital in Rabat, Idriss Lahlou Amine, announced that the center is giving the group the highest standard of care, both from a medical and a technical point of view.
“Rest assured, all means are available to respond effectively to any possible [threat],” said Lahlou Amine.
So far, the doctors have not confirmed any case of illness among the citizens repatriated from Wuhan. The situation is completely under control thanks to the high quality of equipment and infrastructure at the hospital, stressed the virologist.
Rabat’s virology center has two containment services, specializing in highly contagious pathologies, that prevent any risk of contamination.
Morocco has “very quickly acquired diagnostic kits and has a perfect grasp of the World Health Organization’s protocol for diagnosing the disease,” he recalled.
The virology center, inaugurated in 2016, consists of a unit dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of infectious transmissible diseases, along with two containment services for highly contagious pathologies, explained the center’s director Khalid Ennibi.
The center also includes a virology laboratory, a sterilization and decontamination department, and biomedical and technical departments.
The repatriated citizens will remain in quarantine for 15 to 20 days, according to Ennibi.
Moroccans remain safe
Upon their arrival in Morocco, the repatriates were accompanied by a medical team, including both civilian and military doctors and nurses, to the two medical sites.
Both health facilities are equipped with the necessary medical devices, in order to preserve the health and security of the repatriates, their families, and the medical staff, reassured the Ministry of Health in a press release.
Until now, the ministry has not recorded any cases of the new coronavirus in Morocco.
The new coronavirus, designated as “2019-nCOV,” first appeared in December 2019, in Wuhan, Central China. At the time of writing, the disease has claimed the lives of at least 362 people and around 17,485 cases have been recorded.
Common symptoms among patients of the virus include a runny nose, cough, sore throat, and a headache.