The country is heeding important lessons from Asia as it boldly tackles the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Rabat – Morocco started implementing its COVID-19 response measures well before its official lockdown. King Mohammed VI introduced a special fund to address COVID-19 impacts and the state established the Economic Monitoring Committee to guide policies for citizens and businesses.
CNSS put forward a guarantee of MAD 2,000 per month for all workers on suspended pay, and the government is looking into compensation for Moroccans in the country’s informal workforce, or who work as independent contractors. Authorities have guaranteed sufficient food and supplies to get through the crisis, and special wards are allocated to COVID-19 patients and people in need of quarantine.
While countries such as the UK, Canada and the US lag behind-–and the UK seems to be heading for a steeper curve than the ever-debilitating Italy–Morocco demonstrates its intent to flatten the curve as quickly as possible.
Despite doubt and criticism that arose when Morocco closed its borders and ceased all international traffic–swiftly followed with an inter-city travel suspension–these decisions will likely prove to be life–-and economy–saving.
Morocco carefully studied China’s experience, including the country’s mistakes. The North African country has implemented measures that saw success in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Immediate action seems to be key for containment
In 2003, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) infected over 8,000 and killed 774 globally, including 299 in Hong Kong.
In its wake, some Asian metropolises began preparing for the next crisis.
This may be why countries are commending Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan for their rapid response to the novel coronavirus. Despite community spread and deaths, along with close links to China, they managed to keep infection numbers low. Effective action from day one has been the key to containment.
Taiwan introduced health screenings to all arrivals even before human-to-human transmission was confirmed on January 20.
Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore implemented travel restrictions on all passengers entering from China by the beginning of February, defying even the World Health Organization’s (WHO) advice that the measure was unnecessary.
The amalgamation of health screenings, rapid mobilization, social distancing, and strict quarantine regulations resulted in a low number of cases, and eventually, stabilization. Singapore confirmed 455 cases as of March 23, including two deaths.
The takeaways are clear
Take bold action early and you have a fighting chance of success. In Morocco, the King, government, and officials seem to understand this in their efforts to combat the virus head-on.
Morocco has confirmed 275 cases as of March 26, including seven recoveries and ten fatalities. The country is now in pandemic phase 2, with local spread of the novel coronavirus.
The state entered a swift lockdown on March 20. Military and police forces took to Morocco’s streets to ensure that lockdown regulations were followed. One member of each household is allowed to leave the house for essential goods and medications, with a signed exceptional movement permit.
Security services responded swiftly to their call to action, and with arrests for those countering the state of emergency decree.
As the lockdown continues, time will tell if the collective efforts of Morocco’s government and citizens are enough to flatten the curve within the coming weeks.