Rabat - Morocco is ramping up its testing capacity for COVID-19 and conducted 1,263 tests on suspected new cases today.
Rabat – Morocco is ramping up its testing capacity for COVID-19 and conducted 1,263 tests on suspected new cases today.
Health authorities carried out more than 1,000 tests on potential patients in a single day for the first time on April 11. On average, the country performed 917 tests per day between April 11 and April 19, marking a significant increase over previous testing.
Analysts have linked large-scale testing to improved control of the coronavirus pandemic. Countries such as South Korea and Germany, where authorities rolled out testing on a large scale, were better able to contain COVID-19 than countries such as the US, where early testing was limited.
Between March 26 and April 9, Morocco carried out several hundred tests on suspected COVID-19 cases daily.
Last month, the WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, urged countries “test, test, test” in order to understand and control the coronavirus.
Morocco has aimed to increase testing capacity and obtain thousands of test kits. On April 1, the director of epidemiology at the Ministry of Health, Mohamed Lyoubi, said Morocco would buy 100,000 tests. The country planned to buy them incrementally.
Is Morocco doing enough testing?
One sign of whether a country is carrying out enough testing is the percentage of people who receive positive test results.
“If 80-90% of the people test positive, you are probably missing a lot of cases,” said the director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, Michael Ryan, on March 30.
Fifteen percent of today’s tests in Morocco yielded a positive result, meaning 191 people tested positive for the coronavirus and 1,072 people tested negative.
Of the 16,386 tests on suspected cases Morocco has carried out to date, 19% yielded positive results. The general trend, since the outbreak took hold in Morocco, has been a slightly lower positive-test rate as the weeks have worn on.
Even as companies have ramped up production of coronavirus test kits, global demand has soared.
Morocco not only must test suspected cases but recovering patients, too. In Morocco, people who have tested positive for the coronavirus must test negative twice in order to be considered a recovered case and leave quarantine.
Hidden cases in North Africa?
According to some metrics, Morocco is conducting less testing per 1 million people than three others of the five countries hardest-hit by the coronavirus in Africa.
Ghana has performed 2,207 tests per 1 million people in the country. South Africa, which has the most confirmed cases on the continent, has performed 1,934 tests per 1 million population. Egypt has conducted 537 tests per million, while Morocco has conducted 444 tests per million.
At 148 tests per million, Algeria has carried out the least tests by population size of these five hardest-hit countries in Africa.
The three North African countries, all with lower testing rates than South Africa and Ghana, have registered far higher death tolls.