A growing death toll and ‘world emergency’ status have caused global hysteria, but what are the risk factors for Moroccans?
Rabat – The rise of a contemporary version of the pneumonia-like coronavirus, classified as CoViD-19 by the World Health Organization (WHO), has prompted a rush to contain the spread of the epidemic across borders.
Originating in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China in late 2019, over 80,000 cases of the virus have been reported internationally, with approximately 77,800 cases in China alone.
The WHO declared CoViD-19 a “public health emergency of international concern” (PHEIC) on January 30, 2020, at the recommendation of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee (IHREC).
Morocco acted swiftly to prevent the spread of coronavirus among its citizens, repatriating Moroccan nationals living in Wuhan two days after the WHO announced the novel coronavirus as an international health emergency.
With 2,801 deaths recorded as of February 27, the coronavirus outbreak has surpassed the infamous Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2003 as the deadliest among contemporary disease epidemics, according to WHO data.
China has recorded over 2,700 of those deaths alone, but the spread of the virus has slowed dramatically within its borders; the 415 new cases it recorded in the WHO’s 24 February situation update was the lowest since the outbreak of the virus.
Questions posed to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reflect widespread confusion about how CoViD-19 is classified, and what symptoms can be expected.
According to the European branch of the CDC (ECDC), CoViD-19 is the virus associated with SARS CoV-2, the contemporary rendition of a group of bacteria strains that originate in various animal species and lead to respiratory infections such as SARS and the lesser-known Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
Countries elsewhere are facing a new wave of turmoil, as South Korea has surpassed 1,000 confirmed cases, Italy has recorded 229, and Japan has reached 144. Iran is also a growing front for the virus, with 15 deaths reported to date.
The interconnectivity of world travel has made new regional hotspots for coronavirus a nightmare for health and government officials.
In the case of Iran, its unexpected discovery of domestic cases led shortly to its regional neighbors Iraq, Bahrain, and Oman recording their first cases as a result of travelers arriving from Iran.
The pandemic has continued to approach Morocco’s borders, as Italy’s explosion in cases has put surrounding nations on high alert. Algeria recorded its first coronavirus case, the second in Africa to date, after a traveler returned from Italy carrying the disease.
The WHO stated that an ECDC-WHO joint mission arrived in Italy on February 24, as 105 new cases have been reported in the nation, an 85% increase in a 24-hour period.
Fortunately, no Moroccans among the community of over 440,000 in Italy have been infected, the Moroccan embassy has assured.
One of the primary challenges in combating the spread of coronavirus is early detection, which remains a dubious process as the standards for classifying CoViD-19 continue to evolve with research.
China redefined its qualifications for diagnosing CoViD-19 on February 13, and again immediately after; an example of the ambiguous guidelines for medical personnel to make accurate diagnoses.
Despite concern over the ambiguity of diagnoses, the number of new cases appearing worldwide has continued to drop unequivocally, as nations have adjusted to the initial shock wave caused by the coronavirus.
The WHO reported on Morocco’s readiness to combat the spread of coronavirus, stating that its medical facilities were well-equipped to handle cases and that it had the proper testing equipment to diagnose cases of infection.
A recent study focusing on CoViD risk in Africa placed Morocco at “moderate risk” of importing coronavirus, the lowest risk tier used to rank African countries in the study.
The risk rating considers two main contrasting variables: the high volume of travel between Morocco and nations affected by the coronavirus, which gives Morocco a high Infectious Disease Vulnerability Index (IDVI); and Morocco’s high level of preparedness for any introduction of coronavirus into its borders.
Morocco’s “moderate risk” level ranks low in juxtaposition to the international risk level, which has been described as “very high” by the WHO. The comparatively low risk level given to Morocco can be attributed to its swift reaction to the well-being of its citizens abroad.
Despite rumors that coronavirus has infiltrated Morocco’s borders, officials maintain that all suspected cases among Moroccan citizens have returned negative.
Though no individual is impervious to the risk of contracting coronavirus, the relative risk factor is much lower for the majority of the world population than for those in areas where the virus has spread before preventive measures could be implemented.
The prevention tactics recommended by the World Health Organization for the average individual not located in a high-risk area include: washing hands regularly with soap or disinfectant; covering nose and mouth when sneezing; avoiding contact with people showing cold or flu-like symptoms; thoroughly cooking meat and eggs; and avoiding contact with live wild animals or livestock.
Though the total reported cases of coronavirus continue to grow, the rate of infection continues to drop each day. Morocco has maintained a clean bill of health among its citizens, and its high level of monitoring on a foreign and domestic scale is to ensure that the introduction of coronavirus into its population remains unlikely.
The most that the average Moroccan can do to prevent contact with coronavirus is to follow the basic safety measures outlined by the WHO and to be aware of the spread of the virus when traveling abroad.