Information last updated: May 10, 2020
- General lockdown since March 20 until May 20.
- State of Sanitary Emergency.
- Nocturne curfew.
- Confirmed cases: 7,023. Deaths: 193 (May 19).
Response set up and capacity
In Morocco, the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been judged until now as strict and fast. According to the WHO, Morocco has known how to use its previous experiences in pandemics management (MERS-Cov, pandemic influenza) to deal with COVID-19. Morocco’s response has been prepared in collaboration with the WHO to evaluate national capacities required to fit the international health regulation.
These efforts have led to the creation of a National Plan and to the creation of an Inter Ministerial Committee (CIGC) as well as a Steering Committee for the health system response. The national response has been mainly managed by the Government (Ministry of Health and Ministry of Interior) in cooperation with other ministries to ensure continuity of essential services, and medical, paramedical and alimentary supplies. In order to coordinate economical and social responses against negative effects of the pandemics, the Ministry of Finances has implemented an economic watch committee (CVE). It aims at evaluating and identifying accompanying measures. It works in cooperation with other ministries (Interior, Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, Health, etc.) and other institutions (Central Bank, banks, etc).
Additionally, a solidarity funds against Covid-19 has been created for (i) the coverage of expenses for the upgrading of the medical device; (ii) the support of the national economy to cope with the shocks induced by this pandemic; (iii) the preservation of jobs and the mitigation of the social repercussions of the pandemic. This fund, fed by USD1 billion from the General State Budget, was raised to USD 3.5 billion by solidarity donations (mainly by large companies and Moroccan banks).
Entities / Organizations
• Ministry of Health
• Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology
• Ministry of Economy and Finances, and Administrative Reform
• WHO - Mediterranean Regional Office
Mitigating factors - What is being done?
- March 20: Government announces a State of Sanitary Emergency and the general confinement of the population until April 20th to contain the spread of the pandemic. It follows previous decisions such as the closure of schools, universities, religious sites, the prohibition of cultural and sportive events, the prohibition of public gatherings, border closure. Population movements are also restricted and prohibited between cities without local authorities’ authorization (except for emergencies or workers in essential and vital sectors). Any infraction punished by 1 to 3 months of incarceration and/or a between USD30 and 130 fine.
- April 7: Compulsory face mask is mandated in public places and curfew between 5 am and 7pm.
Measures adopted by the Moroccan Government include:
- To strengthen the health system:
- Increase the number of reanimation beds from 1626 to 3000 .
- Installation of countryside hospitals in different regions per the national army.
- Adjustment of exposition hall in hospital with 700 beds.
- Readjustment of the 10 industrial units towards mask production with a 5 million masks sold per day at subsidized prices.
- Conception and fabrication of an artificial respirator 100% Moroccan.
- Increase of the test capacity (from 600/day to 3,000/day).
- Adoption of medical protocol mixing chloroquine with azithromycine.
- Free and complete care of confirmed or suspect cases within hospitals.
- To sustain impacted households:
- For the formal sector: monthly compensations of USD200 for workers in temporary suspension of work registered in the Caisse Nationale de Securité (CNSS). 900,000 workers have been declared by the end of April.
- For the informal sector: due to difficulties, the Government has decided to deal with them in two phases (i) from USD80 to 120 subsidies to workers benefiting from the Ramed (health assistance) card, it concerns 2.3 million families. (ii) same for “non-Ramédistes” households based on an online-declaration, 2 million people in the end of April.
- To sustain Impacted enterprises:
- Suspension of social charges until June 30th.
- Moratorium on repayment of maturities until June 30, without fees or penalties.
- Activation of an additional credit line granted by banks and CCG.
- For small enterprises (capital<USD2M), adjournment of fiscal declaration until June 30.
- Suspension of fiscal controls until June 30.
- Exceptional guarantee mechanism to enterprises affected by COVID-19 with a capital inferior at USD50M “Damane Oxygène”.
- Investment funds to MSE “Imtiaz technologies Covid-19” which approved 34 investment projects with a total value of USD14M to produce products and equipment to fight against the pandemic.
Risks, vulnerabilities, obstacles
- Controlling the spread of the virus: Even if the situation in Morocco, in comparison to other countries, is not as dramatic, a persistent risk of a larger spread continues to exist for two main reasons: 1) lack of respect for confinement measures, and/or social distancing measures (the media reports lax behaviors in big cities and popular neighborhoods) and 2) the development of contaminants within industrial units due to a weak level of conformity and protection, particularly for women, against the COVID-19. Human rights associations call authorities to close industrial units non-essential and to a stricter control regarding workers protection.
- Confinement is increasingly difficult for disadvantaged populations: despite state’s financial assistance, general confinement for two months has led to serious economical and social consequences for vulnerable populations. Men and women living off informal activities or insecure jobs, single mothers or migrants without jobs are especially affected.
- Domestic violence: confinement has created an extremely vulnerable situation for women who are overexposed to violence, especially domestic violence (90% of the violence reported by the associations’ counseling centres). In addition to the physical and psychological pressure caused by the cessation of schooling for children, the closure of homes and the impossibility of leaving without permission has transformed the home into a place at high risk of violence. The concentration of the authorities in the management of the state of emergency aggravates the situation by considering violence as a non-priority during the pandemic.
- Sub-Saharan Migrants living in substandard housing and makeshift camps as well as unaccompanied minors are more vulnerable to contamination due to poor sanitary conditions. Living conditions have also deteriorated by reducing the livelihood activities or the support they received from local associations that had to stop their activities because of the confinement. In addition to homeless migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, there is a lack of safe accommodation in some municipalities.
- Moroccans stuck abroad: The return of Morrocans stranded abroad is considered until today by the press and on social networks as one of the most chaotic situations of the pandemic. While the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been able to organize until the end of April the return of 84,449 tourists and bi-nationals to their countries of residence, offering all the cooperation necessary to organize more than 500 flights, 27,850 Moroccans stranded abroad are still waiting for an answer from the government to be able to return to their country since two months already.
Potential actions and demands
Even if the management of the pandemic has been effective until now, with a persistent risk, several challenges remain:
- More efforts to raise public awareness of the risks of contamination and the obligation to comply with the Ministry of Health’s directives.
- A stricter application of the sanctions decreed by the law of the State of Health Emergency with respect to the rights of citizens.
- Support for businesses to adapt the workplace for better protection of workers.
- Reinforce health checks in the workplace and sanctions for companies that do not comply with the safety instructions.
- Provide all vulnerable populations with financial assistance without discrimination in the event of prolonged confinement
- Establish support measures for women and children who are victims of violence during the period of confinement
- Economic recovery and the promotion of employment remain the greatest post-Covid challenge. Public and private actors need to link their efforts in order to emerge from this situation with minimum damage to an economy that was already fragile before the epidemic.
- It should be noted that the government has decided to close schools until September 2020 and is preparing the implementation of a tracking application to manage contamination after the confinement.
- Ministère de la Santé
- Ministère de l’Industrie, du Commerce, de l’Investissement et de l’Economie Numérique
- Ministère de l’Economie et des Finances, et de la Réforme de l’Administration
- Bureau régional de la Méditerranée Orientale, OMS, Maroc
- Agence Marocaine de Presse
- Association Marocaine des Droits de l’Homme
- Journal Electronique Economique en ligne
Contributor(s): Latifa Chbanat and Zeine Mohamed.