The comment comes as a response to condemnatory statements criticizing the government’s move to suspend travel to and from eight major Moroccan cities.
Rabat – Morocco’s Minister of Health, Khalid Ait Taleb, acknowledged on Monday that the epidemiological situation due to COVID-19 is worrying.
Ait Taleb commented on Morocco’s COVID-19 situation during a press conference. The conference came to answer inquiries on the country’s decision to suspend travel to and from eight major Moroccan cities after the emergence of hotpots.
The minister said the decision was due to the notable increase in the number of cases in the eight major regions.
He acknowledged that the government understands the frustration many Moroccans are experiencing because of the sudden decision.
“We know that citizens are angry. But let me tell you that the virus does not give a deadline. We don’t have any choice but fighting the spread of COVID-19 with proactive measures,” Ait Taleb said.
He also denied the news that authorities will give a 48-hour delay before the decision takes effect.
“The spread of COVID-19 is going so fast,” the official said. “We cannot take risk and give a deadline, the pandemic does not give a deadline. One day will be a risk,” Ait Taleb said.
Asked if Morocco will return to its COVID-19-induced lockdown, Ait Taleb said the government does not intend to make such a decision right now. However, this could change depending on epidemiological developments.
The minister said that “we all want to be happy and spend Eid al-Adha celebrations in a happy atmosphere. But we cannot take a decision that would make us happy for one day and cry for the whole year.”
He said the pandemic is under control, but maintaining this control will require the contribution of all citizens.
An uncertain outlook for Morocco’s COVID-19 state of emergency
The official said the spread of COVID-19 is due to a lack of following preventive measures, including the failure of some to wear face masks in public spaces.
Ait Taleb also warned that some people who do wear face masks do not do so properly.
“Don’t put face masks under your mouth. Put the masks correctly,” the minister said.
Ait Taleb stressed that the number of people in emergency rooms is on a continuous increase, referencing the rise in Morocco’s daily number of COVID-19 cases.
“Those in emergency rooms are our family. Please take preventive measures seriously,” the minister said.
Ait Taleb said the choice to suspend travel from and to Casablanca, Marrakech, Berrechid, Tetouan, Tangier, Fez, Meknes, and Settat is not an arbitrary decision. “It is the epidemiological situation that made that choice.”
Providing statistics to the press, Ait Taleb said that Morocco’s COVID-19 transmission rate, or “R0,” reached 1.9 in Tangier, while in Fez it reached 1.7. R0 in Berrechid is at 2.35.
Ait Taleb recalled that local authorities will facilitate travel among those who have movement permission in the case of an emergency need to travel.
Those who wish to travel for non-essential or personal reasons should instead remain home.
Morocco is under a state of emergency until August 10 with lockdown gradually easing. The state of emergency means Morocco can reimpose lockdown measures when warranted by pandemic-related public health threats.