In the past week, 69 Moroccans have died from COVID-19—the largest weekly death toll so far.
Rabat – The past week, from July 27 to August 2, was “the worst week” since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Morocco, the Ministry of Health said Tuesday.
“The number of cases is increasing. The number of deaths is increasing. The number of patients in critical condition is increasing. It was a bad week,” said Mouad Mrabet, a coordinator at the National Center for Public Health Emergency Operations, affiliated to the Ministry of Health.
Mrabet made the statement on August 4 during the Ministry of Health’s third weekly briefing on the COVID-19 situation in Morocco.
مستجدات وباء كوفيد 19 : التصريح الأسبوعي المفصل رقم 3
Posted by Ministère de la Santé du Royaume du Maroc on Tuesday, 4 August 2020
The briefing, containing data as of Sunday, August 2, presented the global and national epidemiological situations using simplified graphs and interactive maps.
Globally, the number of COVID-19 cases is still increasing every week. As of Sunday, the global case count stood at over 18 million cases, marking an infection ration of 234 per 100,000 people. The global fatality rate stood at 3.8%, while the recovery rate was at 62.9%.
In Africa, the number of COVID-19 cases is slightly decreasing. However, in the Americas, as well as South East Asia, the numbers are still on the rise. In Europe, after a decrease in detected COVID-19 cases for several weeks, the figures began increasing again.
In Morocco, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases stood at 25,537 as of Sunday, marking a ratio of 70 infections per 100,000 people. The country also recorded 382 deaths and 18,435 recoveries.
According to a graph showing the weekly evolution of new COVID-19 cases, Morocco went through three main phases.
During the first phase, marked by the lockdown between mid-March and early June, the numbers of new COVID-19 infections slightly increased at first, but then began gradually decreasing. The number of new COVID-19 cases every week reached a low of 1 per 100,000 people during the first phase.
The second phase, spanning from early June to early July, was marked with gradually eased lockdown measures. During the phase, the number of weekly COVID-19 infections in Morocco increased to reach nearly 6 per 100,000 capita.
Finally, the third and current phase witnessed an even greater increase in weekly infections. Due to the further eased lockdown measures, the number of new COVID-19 cases stood at 14 per 100,000 people in the past week.
According to a map showing Morocco’s epidemiological situation, more Moroccan regions and provinces are witnessing a surge in cases.
In the past week, 22 Moroccan prefectures and provinces recorded more than 7 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 capita—the rate that the Ministry of Health considers alarming. One week before, only 10 prefectures and provinces showed similar figures.
The most heavily infected provinces and prefectures include Al Hoceima, Beni Mellal, Berrechid, Casablanca, Errachidia, Fahs-Anjra, Fez, Jerada, Khenifra, and Marrakech.
The list also includes Meknes, Mohammedia, Moulay Yacoub, Nouaceur, Ouarzazate, Oued Ed-Dahab, Rabat, Sefrou, Settat, Sidi Kacem, Tangier-Asilah, and Tetouan.
The past week has witnessed the highest number of deaths since the start of the domestic COVID-19 outbreak, with 69 casualties.
April remains the month with the highest number of coronavirus-related deaths, with 135 victims. However, after a decrease in May (35 deaths) and June (23), the number of deaths significantly increased in July, reaching 125.
As of August 2, Morocco ranked 60th in the world and sixth in Africa by number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. The country also recorded the 66th highest number of coronavirus-related deaths in the world and the seventh in Africa.
By the number of conducted COVID-19 tests, Morocco is in the 35th position worldwide and second continentally.
The World Health Organization (WHO) continues to consider Morocco to be in the second phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to WHO, the phase is characterized by “clusters of cases” and did not yet reach “community transmission.”
During the briefing session, Mrabet answered a series of questions the Ministry of Health received. Interested individuals can send inquiries via WhatsApp to the telephone number 07 61 85 50 20.
The first question revolved around the possibility of food to contain the coronavirus. According to Mrabet, the probability is “very very low, almost null.” COVID-19 is transmitted through air particles and not food, he explained. So far, no case of COVID-19 transmission through food has been recorded, he added.
Answering another question about how hot weather affects the coronavirus, Mrabet said that laboratory experiments revealed that heat, humidity, and ultraviolet rays affect the virus. However, the findings cannot be confirmed yet, as COVID-19 is still spreading despite the summer heat, he added.
Regarding the duration of the coronavirus’ survival in the air, Mrabet said the particle can stay alive for three to four hours. The duration is the main reason why changing air in living and working places is important, he argued.
“We must always keep windows open and avoid using air conditioning if there is no airflow,” the expert said.
In response to a question about face masks in cars, Mrabet said that, from an epidemiological viewpoint, wearing a face mask in the car when alone or with household members is “useless.” However, according to the law, it is compulsory to wear face masks when outside, he warned.
The final question inquired about the price of COVID-19 tests. According to Mrabet, the Ministry of Health covers the cost of COVID-19 tests patients and suspected cases as part of its epidemiological monitoring. However, if someone requires a COVID-19 test for personal reasons, such as traveling abroad, there is a fee, the doctor said, without disclosing the exact cost.
At the end of the briefing, Mrabet reiterated the safety measures that Moroccans should respect to curb the spread of COVID-19. He urged citizens to wear face masks, maintain social distancing, and avoid physical greetings.
“We must all take part in curbing the spread of COVID-19,” Mrabet said.
“There is no vaccine yet and it does not seem that there will be one anytime soon, so preventive measures are our only solution now,” he concluded.