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Morocco extends coronavirus lockdown by three weeks

Speaking before the Parliament, Head of government Saadeddine El Othmani announced that Morocco is extending the lockdown by three additional weeks. He touched upon the developments of the pandemic in the Kingdom.

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Head of Government Saadeddine El Othmani. / DR

Morocco is extending the lockdown by three additional weeks, the Head of government Saadeddine El Othmani said Monday. Speaking before the parliament during a joint session, El Othmani announced that the extension is based on data and figures presented by the Health Ministry and authorities managing the coronavirus crisis in the Kindgom.

«Containment is difficult for some of you, but it has allowed us to achieve many things, such as controlling the spread of the pandemic, while ensuring that we do not put pressure on the health system», he said.

During his address, El Othmani revealed that the R0 (Basic reproduction number) has been less than 1 for the last two weeks. «The national R0 now stands at 0.9 while experts prefer to have it at 0.7» to loosen lockdown.

The containment measures have prevented 9,000 to 15,000 deaths, the Head of government revealed, adding that as «Eid El Fitr is almost here there is a risk of an outbreak and we do not want the holiday to turn into a tragedy for Moroccans».

El Othmani indicated that hotspots continue to appear, adding that since the start of the pandemic 467 clusters were discovered in 10 regions and resulted in the occurrence of 3,800 confirmed cases. Half of these cases were recorded within household hotspots. «The situation is under control but not yet reassuring», he pointed out.

More tests and less time

The Head of government highlighted the measures intended to support hospitals, recalling that out of Morocco’s 190 health centers, a third is reserved for Covid-19 patients.

«The discovery of new cases through laboratory tests must be rapid and we must monitor confirmed cases' contacts, hence the need to expand the tests. In the beginning, we started with no more than 1,000 tests with two laboratories, while now 13 public laboratories have adopted PCR technology. The day before yesterday, more than 6,600 daily tests were carried out», he further explained.

El Othmani said that by adding 5 military laboratories and 3 private laboratories, Morocco is currently carrying out 8,000 tests. «Other public laboratories will open next week in Er-Rachidia, Nador and Dakhla, in addition to a mobile laboratory by the Ministry of Health», he promised.

«Our objective is to have a minimum of 10,000 daily tests before lifting the containment. In addition, the tests sometimes require 3 to 5 days of waiting. Our goal is a maximum of 24 hours so that people with symptoms do not wait».

Saadeddine El Othmani

During his speech, El Othmani did not refer to Moroccans stranded abroad. No information was given concerning them and no announcement of repatriation was made. Regarding the country's economy, the Head of government has announced that the Finance law will be amended in the coming days.

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