The testimony came from a university professor and former delegate at the Ministry of Education.
Local news outlet Medias24 shared a testimony on August 9 from Moroccan academic Tijania Fertat who stayed in the hospital after testing positive for COVID-19. The testimony outlines the “poor” treatment she allegedly received.
The Ministry of Health responded with an “explanatory notice” on August 10.
In her testimony, the member of Morocco’s Higher Council for Education, Training, and Scientific Research (CSEFRS) and former head of the Rabat-Sale-Zemmour-Zaer Regional Academy of Education and Training (AREF) paints a dark image of the situation in the field hospital.
According to the testimony, Fertat tested positive for COVID-19 on August 4 and the Ministry of Health transferred her on the same night to Sidi Yahya El Gharb.
The ministry’s “explanatory notice,” however, says the Moroccan professor went to the hospital for the first time on August 6 rather than August 4, revealing the first “fallacy” in the testimony.
The ministry explained that the field hospital in Sidi Yahya El Gharb is reserved for asymptomatic COVID-19 cases who do not require extensive medical care. The ministry’s explanation matches Fertat’s testimony as she described patients in the hospital to not show any symptoms.
“I quickly found out that patients only eat and sleep,” Fertat wrote, hinting at the lack of medical treatment.
In her testimony, the academic said the hospital hosted approximately 800 COVID-19 patients, which the ministry denied.
“There were 340 cases in the field hospital and not 800 as mentioned in social media,” the ministry’s statement said.
Another inconsistency between the testimony and the Ministry of Health’s notice is the duration of Fertat’s stay in the field hospital. While the patient narrates three to four days in the field hospital, the Ministry of Health said it transferred Fertat to the regional hospital of Sale 24 hours after her entry because she suffered from chronic illnesses.
The final contradicting statements concern the electrocardiogram (ECG) medical test, which the Ministry of Health considers the first step COVID-19 patients should undergo when admitted to a hospital.
Fertat wrote that she only underwent an ECG test two days after her admission to the Sidi Yahya El Gharb hospital. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health claimed that medical staff performed the test as soon as the patient arrived in the hospital.
Other complaints in Fertat’s testimony that the Ministry of Health did not answer include the unavailability of food for patients with specific diets, such as diabetics, and the lack of regular monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms.
The Moroccan professor also criticized the insufficient separation between male and female patients, as well as the lack of medical staff and medicines.
The testimony shocked Moroccan internet users and quickly became a topic of discussion on social media. After the testimony went viral, Fertat published a new text through Medias24 where she narrates her stay in the regional hospital of Sale.
The second testimony paints a completely opposite picture of Moroccan hospitals.
“If the situation was not one of the best in the center of Sidi Yahya, it was not the case at the Moulay Abdellah public hospital in Sale where I was transferred. A hospital with international standards, with well-equipped rooms. Disinfection is done every day in the rooms and corridors,” Fertat wrote.
“Doctors communicate with patients by phone. Patients undergo blood and ECG tests and then they receive treatment,” she continued.
In her second text, Fertat explained the reasoning behind her initial testimony as a COVID-19 patient, saying, “I wanted to communicate my experience so those who read it never lower their guard.”
The former Ministry of Education official also said that the situation in the Sidi Yahya El Gharb hospital is “severe” but “justifiable.”
“How many doctors and nurses do we need for this center alone? The pandemic exceeds our material capacities and specialized human resources,” she wrote.
The Ministry of Health built the Sidi Yahya El Gharb field hospital in June after neighboring berries fields recorded a major COVID-19 outbreak.
According to the ministry’s latest statement, the hospital has a capacity of 1,100 beds and has a medical staff of 20 civilian and 54 military members.
Between its establishment and August 10, the hospital has hosted 1,767 COVID-19 patients, including 1,248 who recovered.