The new initiative aims to keep the public updated on the ongoing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and to raise awareness on good practices.
Rabat – Morocco’s Ministry of Health launched a new initiative to communicate with the public through weekly briefings on COVID-19. The briefings aim to share detailed data about the epidemiological situation in the country and highlight the ongoing efforts to curb COVID-19.
On Saturday, July 18, Dr. Jamila Jbili, the deputy-head of the communication and media department at the Ministry of Health, presented the first of the weekly briefings on COVID-19.
The video, shared on the ministry’s social media, presented data from the start of Morocco’s COVID-19 outbreak until Wednesday, July 15.
كوفيد 19 : التصريح الصحفي الأسبوعي الأول
Posted by Ministère de la Santé du Royaume du Maroc on Saturday, 18 July 2020
Each upcoming briefing is set to present information specifically from the previous seven days.
The video began with a presentation of the global epidemiological situation. As of July 15, the world had witnessed over 13.1 million COVID-19 cases and more than 570,000 deaths.
Global indicators mark a 4.2% average fatality rate across the world and a 59.6% recovery rate. In comparison, Morocco boasts more positive indicators, with a fatality rate of 1.6% and an 84.6% recovery rate.
Domestic COVID-19 situation
Presenting the domestic epidemiological situation, Jbili summarized the different phases that Morocco went through, illustrating her speech with simplified graphs.
According to the graphs, Morocco recorded a significant increase in COVID-19 cases in April due to family gatherings. The situation then stabilized in May.
However, in June, the number of daily confirmed COVID-19 cases started increasing again. According to Jbili, three main reasons are behind the increase: Higher testing frequency, eased lockdown measures, and citizens’ negligence.
The presentation included a map comparing the epidemiological developments between June 7, before the eased lockdown measures, and June 28.
According to the map, on June 7, only Marrakech, Tangier, and Casablanca hosted more than seven COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population.
However, on June 28, the number of cities and provinces with high infection rates per capita significantly increased. This is especially true in the northern region of Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima and the southern region of Laayoune-Sakia El Hamra.
Higher deaths among the elderly
Jbili highlighted the continued increase in the number of patients who recover from COVID-19. In the second week of July, Morocco recorded the highest number of daily recoveries since the start of the outbreak.
The increase is mainly due to the recovery of hundreds of asymptomatic COVID-19 cases detected in berry production units in Lalla Mimouna, near Kenitra.
Regarding coronavirus-related deaths, Morocco recorded its highest death toll in April. The majority of fatalities were among elderly people and patients who suffered from chronic illnesses.
During the lockdown, deaths gradually decreased because people at high-risk largely stayed home.
After the Moroccan government eased lockdown measures, high-risk people began leaving their homes more often again. This marked an increase in deaths.
As of July 15, the majority of COVID-19 cases were among young people, aged between 25 and 39. Jbili explained that cases are detected among young people because of the increased testing frequency in workplaces.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Morocco is approximately the same between males and females. Approximately 53% of the cases are among men and 47% of the cases among women.
However, in terms of deaths, men represent 67% of the coronavirus-related fatalities, while women represent 33%.
In terms of screenings, Jbili admitted that Moroccan laboratories conducted very limited tests at the start of the domestic outbreak. However, with more laboratories equipped to conduct the tests, the testing policy began including more people.
The country currently conducts 20,000 COVID-19 tests every day, Jbili highlighted. She revealed that Moroccan laboratories conducted over 1.12 million tests in total.
Starting next week, the weekly briefings on COVID-19 will react to inquiries and questions from citizens. The public can send their questions in video or audio format via WhatsApp to the telephone number 0761855020.
Exceptional mobilization in Tangier
The briefing session is also set to highlight the Ministry of Health’s efforts every week. The July 18 session discussed health authorities’ response to the major COVID-19 outbreaks in industrial production units in Tangier.
Jbili announced that Minister of Health Khalid Ait Taleb and local authorities visited the concerned factories twice for inspection. The ministry also sent teams and medical equipment to support regional health authorities.
The Mohammed VI Hospital of Tangier doubled the number of its intensive care capacity from 14 beds to 28. The ministry also equipped the hospital with 30 new ventilators and 20 medical oxygen concentrators.
In terms of human resources, the ministry deployed nine intensive care doctors and 50 nurses to care for COVID-19 patients in Tangier.
At the end of the briefing session, Jbili urged citizens to abide by preventive measures.
“We hope that [safety rules’] violations disappear and all citizens respect safety measures,” she said.
The four main measures are keeping a distance of over one meter from other people, wearing face masks, washing hands regularly with water and soap or cleaning them with disinfectant, and downloading the “Wiqaytna” tracking application.
Finally, Jbili gave a list of illnesses that can worsen the situation of the patient if they catch COVID-19. The list includes diabetes, respiratory allergies, asthma, kidney diseases, cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, and cancer.
“If you suffer from these diseases, take extra care in respecting the preventive measures,” the doctor concluded.