Review Morocco’s daily COVID-19 updates and the most significant events related to the pandemic during the month of March.
The COVID-19 pandemic officially emerged in Morocco on March 2, 2020. Infections spread slowly, and were initially limited to people who had recently arrived in Morocco from abroad. By the end of the month, confirmed cases surpassed 600, with 36 deaths and 24 recoveries.
March 2: COVID-19 reaches Morocco.
Moroccan health authorities announce the country’s first novel coronavirus case: A Moroccan man who arrived from Italy in February, importing the virus. The statement asks citizens not to worry, as the man’s health is “stable.”
The first case of COVID-19 in Morocco prompts authorities to take preventive measures against the proliferation of the pandemic. In line with such measures, the organizers of Morocco’s International Agricultural Exhibition (SIAM) announce their decision to cancel the 2020 event.
The 15th SIAM was scheduled to take place in Meknes from April 14 to 19.
Other events soon follow.
Ban on mask exports
Morocco imposes an export license for medical protective masks, banning their export without special authorization from the ministry.
March 3: Information about the new case.
In a morning press briefing, Morocco’s Minister of Health Khalid addresses the press to provide more details about the first confirmed case of COVID-19. The minister says the 39-year-old patient made contact with 104 people during his flight, including crew members.
Most of the people with whom he has had contact while in Morocco are in Casablanca and El Jadida. Some of them, however, have traveled to other regions such as Ouarzazate. All of these people have been identified, and none exhibit symptoms of the virus, assured the minister.
Suspension of school faked
After the confirmation of Morocco’s first case, several fake news reports appear on social media. One shares a rumor that Morocco has decided to suspend school, which the Ministry of Education denies in its first statement related to the virus.
The Ministry of Education urges citizens to verify such information and to contact relevant services before sharing this type of content.
March 4: The first case triggers a wave of fake news.
Morocco’s Ministry of Interior releases a statement calling on citizens to stay alert in an effort to counter the fake news about COVID-19 already circulating online.
“Stay vigilant in the face of the dissemination of false and fictitious information attributed to official parties through new technology techniques,” the ministry says.
March 5: Authorities confirm Morocco’s second case of COVID-19.
Health authorities issue a press release announcing a new case: An 89-year-old woman who arrived in Morocco from Italy carrying the virus. She tested positive on March 4.
Morocco’s critical case
Later in the day, the Ministry of Health announces that country’s second COVID-19 patient is in critical condition.
The woman’s condition is due to a chronic disease that has weakened her immune system.
March 8: Morocco suspends flights to Italian cities.
Morocco’s government decides to tighten measures against the pandemic, suspending flights to Milan and Venice.
The decision comes into effect the same day. The announcement follows the rapid surge of confirmed cases in Italy.
March 10: Authorities announce a third case of COVID-19, along with the first fatality.
Health authorities release a statement announcing the diagnosis of the third case of COVID-19 in Morocco. The new patient is a French tourist who arrived in Morocco on March 7.
The ministry also releases a statement regretting the death of the second confirmed patient in Morocco, an 89-year-old woman who suffered from a chronic disease in addition to COVID-19.
March 11: COVID-19 cases in Morocco increase to six.
The Ministry of Health of Health announces three more cases of COVID-19 in Morocco, bringing the total number of cases in the country to six.
The new patients are the wife and daughter of the French tourist who became the country’s third confirmed case of the virus on March 10.
The sixth patient is a French woman of Senegalese origin. The 64-year-old woman arrived in Fez from France on Thursday, March 5. The woman exhibited novel coronavirus symptoms on March 7, the ministry says.
Suspension of sea routes with Italy
The increase of cases in Italy prompts Moroccan authorities to suspend sea routes with the European country. The decision is in line with the government’s directives to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Morocco.
March 12: Morocco is in the “first stage” of a COVID-19 outbreak. Cases remain at six.
Head of Government El Othmani El Othmani addresses citizens after a weekly government council, asking Moroccans to avoid overreacting and not to panic.
The head of government says the outbreak in Morocco is still in the first stage, emphasizing that necessary measures will be taken “in due time.”
March 13: Morocco reports a total of eight COVID-19 patients and the first recovery.
Morocco’s health ministry confirms the country’s seventh and eight cases. One carrier of the virus is a 39-year-old Moroccan man who arrived in Casablanca from Spain on March 4.
The other new patient is a 64-year-old French woman who arrived in Taroudant on March 2.
One patient recovers from COVID-19.
Suspending flights with Algeria
Morocco decides to suspend flights to and from Algeria, one of the first African countries to confirm coronavirus cases.
Morocco suspends school
Suspension of school is no longer a rumor. Morocco decides to suspend all education activities nationwide to keep educators, students, and staff safe and to limit the spread of the virus.
March 14: Morocco suspends some international flights. Total cases hit 18.
The health ministry confirms 10 new cases. Recoveries and deaths remain at one each.
Morocco suspends flights to and from 21 countries
Morocco suspends flights to and from a total of 21 countries. The move follows previous decisions to suspend flights to and from Algeria, Italy, France, Spain, Algeria, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, and Portugal.
In the Americas, air links are suspended with Canada and Brazil.
In Africa, flights are suspended with Egypt, Niger, Mali, Chad, Mauritania, and Senegal.
Morocco also suspends flights to and from the UAE, Oman, Jordan, Lebanon, and Bahrain.
Other countries include Greece, Turkey, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Austria.
The decision is effective immediately.
March 15: Morocco suspends all international flights, counting 28 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
The number of COVID-19 cases rises to 28. The 11 new cases originated in Spain (6), France (2), Italy (2), and Austria (1).
Recoveries and deaths remain at one each.
Suspension of all international flights
Morocco suspends all international flights. The move angers some tourists in Morocco who share videos expressing concerns.
Morocco reassures foreigners that special flights will repatriate them to their countries of origin.
King Mohammed VI’s Special Fund
King Mohammed VI orders the creation of the Special Fund for the Management and Response to COVID-19, with a value of $1 billion.
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March 16: COVID-19 cases in Morocco reach 37.
Morocco confirms a total of 37 cases. Health authorities report 135 people have tested negative for the virus.
Recoveries and deaths remain at one each.
Mosques, cafes, gyms close
With the spread of the virus, Morocco announces stricter measures. Mosque-goers are instructed to pray at home as all mosques nationwide will close their doors until further notice.
Morocco also closes coffee shops, restaurants, hammams, gyms, and clubs.
Remote education begins
Digital learning begins on the Ministry of Education’s TelmidTICE remote learning platform.
March 17: Morocco’s COVID-19 case count reaches 44. A second patient dies.
The country’s second fatality is a 75-year old Moroccan man from Sale, Rabat’s twin city.
The health ministry also confirms seven new cases in 24 hours. Recoveries remain at one.
Strict measures against fake news
The public prosecutor’s office says in a press release that it gave firm instructions to courts across the country to take legal action against anyone who spreads fake news about the coronavirus.
King Mohammed VI chairs a committee devoted to following up on the preventive measures against the spread of COVID-19 in Morocco. Donations begin pouring into the special fund he created on March 15.
March 18: Morocco reports a total of 54 cases. The first local infections are confirmed.
The health ministry confirms 10 new cases of COVID-19 in Morocco, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Morocco to 54.
Most of the new patients arrived in Morocco from foreign locations. However, the first local cases are confirmed.
The minister of health emphasizes that the coming days will be crucial.
Recoveries remain at one while deaths remain at two.
Restrictions on movement
The ministries of health and interior ask citizens to limit their movement unless going out is absolutely necessary. The measure seeks to clamp down the spread of the virus.
Police crack down on fake news
Police arrest suspects in Berrechid and Kenitra for their involvement in spreading fake news about the virus and the pandemic, and for trying to incite violence.
March 19: With 63 total COVID-19 cases, Morocco declares a state of emergency.
The health ministry confirms nine new cases. Recoveries and deaths remain at two each.
Prepare for lockdown
Morocco’s Ministry of Interior declares a state of emergency. The decision will come into effect on March 20.
The ministry tells citizens and residents they will not be able to enter public spaces without authorization.
Local authorities will provide movement authorization to people who work in necessary sectors.
Morocco announces the second recovery of a patient in Casablanca, who caught the virus from her husband.
DGSN arrests Mi Naima
National police announce the arrest of a Moroccan YouTuber Mi Naima for spreading fake news about the coronavirus.
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March 20: Cases reach 79 and a third patient dies. Morocco enters lockdown.
Morocco confirms 23 new cases in 24 hours. The Ministry of Health also confirms the country’s third fatality, a 39-year-old man. Recoveries remain at two.
The state of emergency comes into effect at 6 p.m.
Military rolls out to enforce lockdown
Images and videos circulating throughout Moroccan social media networks show dozens of military vehicles rolling through neighborhoods around the country, preparing to enforce the impending state of emergency.
Exceptional movement permits
The interior ministry clarifies that Moroccan citizens and residents must fill out an “exceptional movement permit” and have it signed by local authorities before leaving their homes to work, buy groceries and medicine, or receive medical care.
State of emergency enters into force
Morocco’s state of emergency is effective until further notice.
Everyone in Morocco must comply with the measures under the state of emergency or face penalty of sanctions provided for in the Criminal Code, the Ministry of THE Interior warned.
Morocco’s public forces, police, Royal Gendarmerie, and military will enforce the measures firmly and responsibly against anyone in public spaces.
Chloroquine testing up for deliberation
The Ministry of Health announces that medicines containing chloroquine are still undergoing clinical trials to determine whether they are effective treatments for the novel coronavirus.
Morocco maintains ‘sufficient’ stocks of essentials
The Ministry of Industry assures that Moroccan markets have sufficient quantities for the coming months. Sales outlets and supermarkets will remain open for citizens to purchase essential goods during the state of emergency.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Energy affirms that the country has sufficient stock of gas cylinders to meet the national need for the next 40 days.
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March 21: Morocco’s cases climb to 104 and a third patient recovers.
Suspension of intercity buses
The Ministry of the Interior announces the suspension of all intercity buses. Traveling between cities will only be possible via trains or private vehicles. Travelers will have to undergo checks from the authorities and provide justifications for their travel.
ONCF suspends most trains
The national railway office announces that it will limit train movement between Casablanca, Rabat, and Kenitra; Casablanca and the Mohammed V Airport; and Casablanca, Settat, and El Jadida; while suspending travel to all other destinations.
March 22: COVID-19 cases stand at 115, including four deaths and three recoveries.
The health ministry confirms 19 new cases, one death, and no new recoveries.
Defiance of state of emergency
Videos surface of groups of people in Tangier, Tetouan, Fez, and Sale taking to the streets the night before, defying the state of emergency measures. The demonstrators shout “Allahu akbar” (God is great) and chant religious slogans.
Outraged Moroccans call upon authorities to arrest anyone involved in undermining the country’s preventive measures.
Royal Air Maroc suspends domestic flights
Morocco’s national carrier Royal Air Maroc suspends all domestic flights until further notice.
The Ministry of Interior prepares a draft decree seeking to impose legal actions against anyone who defies the state of emergency. The government council approves.
Anyone who defies the state of emergency and the orders of Moroccan authorities will receive a sentence ranging from one to three months in prison and pay a fine ranging from MAD 300 to 1,300 ($30 to $132).
Official: State of emergency effective until April 20
Morocco’s government announces its plans to uphold the state of emergency until April 20 to ensure the safety of citizens and residents. The government also moves to prohibit people from leaving their homes except for emergency cases and to ban all social gatherings.
Repatriation flights for tourists end, for now
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs announces that there will be no more repatriation flights for international tourists after March 22, until further notice.
King mobilizes military
King Mohammed VI mobilizes the military to strengthen Morocco’s medical infrastructure dedicated to the response to and management of the coronavirus pandemic.
The King calls on military officials to ensure that “military medicine takes part jointly with its civilian counterpart in the delicate mission of fighting the pandemic,” adding that civil and military doctors must work “in harmony and intelligence.”
March 23: Cases climb to 143 while recoveries increase to five.
The ministry confirms 28 new cases of COVID-19 and two more recovered patients. Deaths remain at four.
The virus is primarily concentrated in the regions of Fez-Meknes (35 cases), Casablanca-Settat (34 cases), and Rabat-Sale-Kenitra (32 cases).
Morocco votes to criminalize state of emergency violations
A committee for the Ministry of Interior within the House of Representatives unanimously votes in favor of draft decree 2.20.292 to penalize violators of the state of emergency.
March 24: Morocco’s COVID-19 cases reach 170, including five deaths and six recoveries.
The health ministry confirms 27 new cases, one death, and one recovery in 24 hours.
March 25: Cases amount to 225, including six deaths and seven recoveries.
The health ministry confirms 55 new cases, one death, and one recovery in 24 hours.
New COVID-19 hotline
Morocco’s Ministry of the Interior creates a new hotline “Allo 300” to receive calls in the event of an emergency or to report new COVID-19 cases.
March 26: Eight COVID-19 patients have recovered and ten have died as cases grow to 275.
The health ministry confirms 59 new COVID-19 cases, four deaths, and one recovery in 24 hours.
Chloroquine to treat Morocco’s COVID-19 patients
Morocco’s health ministry announces that it has sufficient stocks of chloroquine, an anti-malarial medicine, to use for COVID-19 treatment.
March 27: Cases hit 345, with 23 deaths and 11 recoveries.
A shocking 13 deaths are reported in 24 hours, along with 70 new cases. Three additional patients recover.
Crucial days ahead
The head of government asks Moroccans to stay home and continue to show respect for preventive measures, emphasizing that the coming days will be crucial.
March 28: COVID-19 cases climb to 402, with 11 recoveries and 22 deaths.
Morocco’s Ministry of Health confirms 57 new cases, two deaths, and no recoveries in 24 hours.
Tax postponement possible
Morocco’s General Directorate of Taxes (DGI) announces that Moroccan companies with an annual turnover equal to or higher than MAD 20 million ($2 million) can request a postponement of their tax payment deadlines.
March 29: Morocco’s cases amount to 479, including 26 deaths and 13 recoveries.
Morocco’s health ministry confirms 77 new cases, one death, and two recoveries in 24 hours.
March 30: The COVID-19 case count hits 556, with 33 deaths and 15 recoveries.
Morocco’s health ministry records 77 new cases, seven deaths, and two recoveries in 24 hours.
Aid for informal workers
Morocco’s Ministry of the Interior launches the registration process for informal workers with suspended activity to benefit from a monthly assistance stipend.
Moroccan workers in the informal sector should send their registration number under the National Medical Assistance Program (RAMED) to the toll-free number 1212.
March 31: Morocco’s case count totals 617, with 36 deaths and 24 recoveries.
Morocco confirms 61 new COVID-19 cases, three deaths, and nine recoveries in 24 hours.
Moncef Slaoui denies involvement in US COVID-19 task force
Moroccan immunology doctor Moncef Slaoui denies being part of a US government task force to find a vaccine for COVID-19.
The doctor said he has no working arrangements with the US government.
Intensified COVID-19 tests
Morocco decides to intensify screening tests for COVID-19, mobilizing to perform 10,000 tests per day.
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Find our complete timeline of the COVID-19 pandemic in Morocco here.