“Scary numbers” of COVID-19 cases and deaths require Moroccans to work together to manage the pandemic, Laftit underlined.
Rabat – In light of the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Morocco, Minister of the Interior Abdelouafi Laftit said on Wednesday that the situation is critical but some people “don’t want to help.”
Speaking during a session with the Interior Committee at the House of Representatives, Laftit did not hide his concern with the evolution of the epidemiological situation in Morocco. The country is recording 3,000-4,000 new cases of the virus and 60-70 related deaths every day.
Laftit said these are “scary numbers” that require Moroccans to work hand in hand to face the pandemic and its negative repercussions.
The Ministry of Health announced on Wednesday the highest number of COVID-19 cases that Morocco has recorded in 24 hours, with 5,745 new infections.
“We have two solutions: find the vaccine or have people take the necessary precautions,” Laftit stressed.
The interior minister condemned some citizens’ disregard for preventive measures, particularly in the Casablanca-Settat region, which regularly records the highest number of COVID-19 infections and fatalities in Morocco.
Health authorities in the Casablanca-Settat region confirmed 2,478 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, as well as 26 fatalities.
Laftit said dwindling compliance with preventive measures is occurring all over the world.
“People are tired,” the minister admitted.
He argued, however, this should not be a justification for failing to respect vital health measures.
With Morocco under a state of emergency that allows the government to take swift decisions to preserve public safety, Laftit responded to claims that the interior ministry makes improvised decisions regarding COVID-19.
In particular, he addressed complaints regarding government decisions leading up to Eid Al Adha in July.
“As Eid El Kebir [Al Adha] approached, we had to choose between two options: cancel the [holiday] or maintain it while limiting the movements of citizens,” said the minister.
The Ministry of the Interior chose the second option for three main reasons.
Laftit said that canceling the celebration would not have prevented people from traveling. As well, Eid Al Adha is an occasion for rural Morocco to “rebound” on the social and economic levels with the sale of sheep and other livestock.
The third reason, according to Laftit, is linked to drought. He said Morocco’s cattle breeders were already suffering a lack of income prior to COVID-19 due to the poor agricultural season.
The interior ministry’s decision to limit travel therefore aimed to support rural Moroccans while preserving public health.
The interior minister stressed that “there is no improvisation” when it comes to government decisions, arguing that his administration “knew what it was doing” when it suspended travel ahead of Eid Al Adha on July 26.
The suspension of travel in eight major Moroccan cities in July led many people to rush home, causing major traffic jams on several highways. This resulted in 199 traffic accidents within 48 hours.
Accidents on July 26 and 27 resulted in a total of 15 fatalities and 313 injuries.
Following the tragedy, Morocco’s Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani declared in a Facebook post that he bears full responsibility for the decision.
“More difficult decisions can be made in the future, if necessary, God forbid, and we [might] return to the first quarantine [phase] if we have to,” said the head of government.
The return of a full COVID-19 lockdown in Morocco
Laftit’s condemnation of Moroccans’ disregard for health measures follows El Othmani’s warning on November 3 that a return to full lockdown is possible if the COVID-19 situation in Morocco gets out of control.
“None of us, officials or citizens, wish to return to total lockdown,” said El Othamni before the House of Councilors.
He recognized that no one is ready for the return of a total lockdown given the social, economic, and psychological impacts. The decision hinges on “everyone’s commitment” to the preventive measures against COVID-19 in Morocco.