Lockdown measures reimposed in Casablanca districts

Authorities put several districts of Casablanca under lockdown following alarming spike in coronavirus infections as Morocco struggles to offset economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic.

CASABLANCA - Moroccan authorities put several districts of Casablanca under lockdown as the North African country is struggling to contain the strikingly rising number of coronavirus infections.

Morocco reported 1,776 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Saturday, bringing its nationwide tally to 41,017.

The health ministry said that 21 people had died over the past 24 hours, pushing its official coronavirus death toll to 632, adding that 28,566 people have recovered.

It reported 651 infections in the economic capital of Casablanca as local authorities reimposed lockdown measures in several neighbourhoods, including the Old Medina and Hay Mohammadi.

The alarming rate of daily infections came as Morocco is going through an unprecedented economic crisis caused by the sanitary crisis despite the government’s efforts to lessen the damage caused to the national economy.

The High Commission for Planning (HCP) said that the unemployment rate in Morocco rose to 10.5% during the first quarter of 2020, against 9.1% recorded in the same period in 2019.

Bank Al Maghrib revealed on Thursday during the second quarter of 2020, the real estate asset price index (IPAI) fell quarter on quarter by 3.3%.

The World Bank warned in a report published last month that the COVID-19 shock was abruptly pushing the Moroccan economy into a severe recession, the first one since 1995.

“The economy is expected to be doubly impacted by domestic and external economic shocks. Real GDP is projected to contract by 4 percent in 2020 in the baseline scenario, a sharp contrast to the 3.6 percent expansion projected before the outbreak,” said the World Bank.

“Few sectors have been spared but the contraction is primarily driven by a drop in the production of goods and services, a reduction in exports, disruption of global value chains, as well as a decline in tourism due to travel restrictions and border lockdowns. Further extensions of the lockdown would have a further negative short-term impact on real GDP growth,” it added.

The World Bank said that Morocco has an opportunity to build a more sustainable and resilient economy by developing a strategy to adapt, similar to its approach to the environment front despite potential volatility in the economic recovery phase.