Morocco accelerates pace of vaccination campaign

Washington sends over 300,000 Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines to Morocco as vaccinated Moroccans vent their anger at the government for the lack of clarity over travelling with the vaccine passport.

RABAT – Moroccan authorities are accelerating the pace of the vaccination campaign in a bid to curb the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic as the number of COVID-19 cases has doubled in the last 10 days.

From billboards to awareness campaigns on televisions, radio stations and news websites, the ministry of health is pressing on with its strategy to vaccinate Moroccans, keeping all its vaccination centres open seven day a week until 8 p.m.

The United States sent Sunday over 300,000 vaccines manufactured by Johnson & Johnson to Morocco as part of the COVAX programme.

“To help save Moroccan lives, the United States is pleased to provide 302,400 doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine through #COVAX. This donation is part of @POTUS Biden’s promise to share vaccines worldwide to lead the fight toward ending the pandemic,” tweeted US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The government toughened the current restrictive measures last Friday, with the establishment of a night-time curfew nationwide, between 11 p.m. and 4:30 a.m while cafes and restaurants opened at half-capacity besides public transport and wedding ceremonies have been banned.

Travel between prefectures and provinces is allowed on presentation of the vaccine passport or an administrative travel permit issued by the competent territorial authorities.

But, several travellers vented their fury at the government’s silence and at the authorities for their lack of transparency after they were fined 300 dirhams ($34) by the gendarmes despite showing them the vaccine passports.

“What’s the point of getting vaccinated if I can’t use my vaccine passport? We demand clarity from the government. This is unacceptable!,” said a middle-aged man who was fined despite showing his vaccine passport to the gendarmes.

Safae, who travelled Sunday from Meknes to Casablanca by train, told Middle East Online that it was full.

The number of patients admitted to intensive care units continued to increase on a daily basis with 135 new patients hospitalized last Saturday in ICUs.

“In one month, we have gone from a filling rate of intensive care beds of 5% to 19% today, which is serious. It should be remembered that with an occupancy rate of resuscitation beds of 35%, the country was in a critical situation,” Dr Said Afif, member of the National Scientific and Technical Anti-COVID Committee and President of the Moroccan Society of medical sciences told Aujourdhui Le Maroc.

The ministry of health expanded on Monday the vaccination age category to those aged 25 and above. It reported 2250 new cases of COVID-19 and 22 deaths while over 12 million people have had their two doses of the vaccine.