The minister’s statement comes less than two weeks before the end of Morocco’s state of emergency, scheduled for May 20.
Ait Taleb made the statement on Friday, May 8, during an interview with television channel Al-Aoula, to present the conditions required for lifting the lockdown Morocco implemented to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Three conditions must be fulfilled to initiate deconfinement, notably a stability of the epidemiological situation, a decreasing trend in new contamination cases, and an inflection of the R0 ratio below the value of 1,” Ait Taleb explained.
R0 is a factor that health officials use to determine how infectious a virus is and the average rate of virus transmission from a single infected person.
“Once the epidemiological situation has stabilized and the index of the virus spread has declined, at that time only we may speak of lifting the state of health emergency,” said the minister, insinuating at the possibility of further extension of the nationwide lockdown, currently scheduled to end on May 20.
It is necessary to consolidate the achievements made in containing the COVID-19 spread in order to meet the conditions for a gradual lift of the lockdown, Ait Taleb stressed.
A decision to lift the state of emergency “implies a heavy responsibility that everyone must assume,” he said.
The deconfinement process “must be gradual and based on the approaches suggested by different sectors,” the minister continued, warning that “we are not safe despite the measures taken” and that “any hasty or miscalculated move could cost us a lot.”
Despite the preventive measures the Moroccan government adopted, the detection of COVID-19 hotspots within families and industrial units still raises questions about the country’s readiness to lift the lockdown, Ait Taleb said.
While reaffirming that Morocco has been able to avoid the worst thanks to its proactive measures, the minister called on citizens to show a spirit of responsibility, solidarity, and patience.
The statement comes less than two weeks before the scheduled end of Morocco’s state of health emergency. The country implemented the state of emergency on March 20 to restrict the movement of citizens and curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the state of emergency was initially set to end on April 20, the Moroccan government decided to extend it for one more month. With the scheduled end date approaching, it remains to be seen whether the government will opt for another extension.