Morocco extended its state of emergency and nationwide lockdown for a second time, maintaining them until June 10.
Rabat – Morocco will gradually lift its nationwide lockdown, scheduled to end on June 10, when the country meets a series of requirements, Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani announced today.
Before any attempt to ease the lockdown, Morocco’s health infrastructure should be able to deal with any “unwanted emergencies,” El Othmani said during a joint parliamentary session.
In addition to the hospitals already equipped to host COVID-19 patients, Morocco is equipping 190 additional health centers with new material. One quarter of the newly-equipped facilities will host coronavirus patients exclusively.
Morocco should also reach a minimum frequency of 10,000 daily COVID-19 tests before easing the lockdown. Moroccan laboratories currently perform between 3,000 and 5,000 tests every day.
To ramp up testing, the Ministry of Health is equipping a series of laboratories across the country, including three that will start performing COVID-19 tests this week.
The new laboratories would also accelerate the results of tests. COVID-19 patients currently wait between three and five days before receiving test results, but the new facilities would allow for quick results in less than 24 hours.
Having results of COVID-19 tests in one day is also necessary before easing the lockdown, according to El Othmani, as it will allow for quick interventions to tackle virus hotspots.
Another important prerequisite is improving the monitoring of people who made contact with COVID-19 patients. While the Ministry of Health currently has teams specialized in detecting any potential virus carriers, a new tracking application that will soon become operational will facilitate and accelerate the process.
The final requirement before Morocco can start lifting the lockdown is ensuring a sufficient stock of all the necessary drugs, medication, and equipment for treating COVID-19 patients on a large scale, in case of a major outbreak.
“For example, we need a stock of at least 150 million face masks, which we will reach in the future thanks to our local production units,” El Othmani said.
“We are constantly working to meet all of these conditions,” he continued.
Adapted post-lockdown measures
The “deconfinement” process will take place gradually and will be adapted to regional and sectoral factors.
Morocco’s epidemiological situation currently contains several regional disparities. The situation in the Casablanca-Settat, Marrakech-Safi, Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima, and Fez-Meknes regions is still “worrying,” but the remaining regions have more or less contained the pandemic.
“Deconfinement measures will depend on the regions, and they will remain flexible, with a possibility of backtracking depending on the pandemic’s evolution,” El Othmani said.
If COVID-19 hotspots appear in some regions after easing restrictions, authorities will re-apply strict lockdown measures, he added.
After lifting the lockdown, preventive measures such as social distancing, the mandatory wearing of face masks, and regular disinfection of public spaces will remain enforced.
The post-lockdown period will also include new measures to protect citizens at high risk such as the elderly and patients suffering from chronic illnesses or immunodeficiencies.
Moroccan ministries, in coordination with health experts, will also develop new regulations and guidelines, adapted to each economic sector, to ensure the safety of workers and avoid outbreaks in commercial or industrial units.
The monitoring committees charged with supervising the implementation of safety measures in workplaces will also increase their visits to ensure all Moroccan businesses comply with the regulations.
The committees will issue warnings in case of violations and then close the commercial and industrial units if they do not address their safety issues.