RABAT - Morocco has authorised hospitals to use antimalarial drugs in treating the new coronavirus as scientists urge caution over encouraging results from small trials.
The Moroccan health ministry on Monday gave hospitals and regional health directors the green light to start using hydroxychloroquine and related compound chloroquine "in the care of confirmed COVID-19 cases".
The ministry said that "efforts have been made to ensure the availability of these medicines", urging caution in how the stocks are managed.
Rabat last week ordered the Moroccan branch of French drug maker Sanofi to hand over its entire stock of Nivaquine and Plaquenil, both of which contain chloroquine.
Studies in France and China have found that the drug helped patients suffering from the COVID-19 illness, and France on Monday ordered its use in severe cases.
US President Donald Trump on Monday said chloroquine could be a "gift from God".
He has been criticised by scientists for overhyping the drug, and on Monday the World Health Organization urged caution over its use.
Experts have urged the public to remain cautious until larger clinical trials validate the smaller studies.
In its note, Morocco's health ministry said it took its decision after consulting with a scientific committee which recommended prescribing chloroquine along with another drug called azithromycine.
Morocco's transport minister Abdelkader Amara, who tested positive for the new coronavirus on March 14, has already said he was taking Nivaquine.
"My health is stable. I have no fever or respiratory symptoms. The headaches are almost gone. I just feel a little tired," he told private radio station Medi 1.
Morocco has recorded 170 cases of the COVID-19 illness, with dead and six cured. The country has three screening centres and 1,642 intensive care beds for 35 million inhabitants.