Morocco currently has a stock of 12 million medical masks and the production of more masks is ongoing at full speed.
The move aims to ensure the availability of a sufficient supply of medical masks in Morocco amid the high international demand for such products due to the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Ministry of Industry made the move after consulting with the Ministry of Health. The Official Bulletin of Morocco first announced the new measures, which came into effect on Monday, March 2.
The addition of medical masks to the list of products subject to an export license modifies the royal decree number 1308-94. The decree dates back to April 19, 1994, and regulates the import and export quantity of several types of goods.
On March 2, a few hours before Morocco confirmed its first COVID-19 case, Head of Government Saadeddine El Othmani and Minister of Health Khalid Ait Taleb announced that the government has a stock of 12 million medical masks.
A private operator, the Royal Gendarmerie, and the Civil Protection produce the masks in Morocco.
The two officials said that Morocco intends to increase its stock. To do so, the Ministry of Health will purchase all national production of medical masks.
The move coincides with several attempts to smuggle medical masks outside of the country.
On March 3, police arrested a British national at the Agadir International Airport for trying to smuggle 17,000 medical masks to the United Kingdom, where the prices of masks are rising exponentially due to their scarcity. Police discovered that the suspect had a criminal record for similar acts.
On the same day, authorities at the Tangier-Med Port arrested a British truck driver attempting to smuggle 100,000 medical masks, with a value of $3.3 million, to the UK.
The new measure is part of Morocco’s efforts to control the spread of the viral COVID-19. At the time of writing, the country has confirmed two cases of the virus: a man and a woman who separately traveled to Morocco from Italy.