Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani announced the decision on Wednesday, September 9 after the government approved a decree complementing the law that regulates the state of emergency.
Since it was first declared on March 19, Morocco’s state of health emergency witnessed five extensions over the course of six months. Wednesday’s extension is the sixth of its kind.
Before this extension, Morocco’s state of emergency was scheduled to expire Thursday, September 10.
The state of emergency is not synonymous with lockdown. Rather, it is a legal framework that allows the Moroccan government to promptly take exceptional measures against COVID-19. The measures include lockdowns on neighborhoods or cities, bans on travel, the closing of gathering places, and the deployment of military troops in cities.
The extension comes a few days after Morocco witnessed a record daily increase in COVID-19 cases. On September 6, the Ministry of Health announced 2,234 new coronavirus infections.
As of September 8 at 6 p.m., Morocco has confirmed a total of 75,721 COVID-19 cases, the third-highest number in Africa and the 42nd worldwide. The figure includes 57,239 recoveries, 1,427 deaths, and 17,055 active cases.
The country has been regularly confirming over 1,000 new COVID-19 cases every day for several weeks.
The majority of cases appear in the Casablanca-Settat region and the city of Casablanca itself. On September 8 alone, the metropolis recorded 628 new infections and eight coronavirus-related deaths.
The alarming figures in Casablanca led the Moroccan government to put the city under lockdown and cancel in-person classes in its schools. However, it remains to be seen whether the measures will be effective in bringing COVID-19 under control in Morocco’s largest city.