Morocco re-imposes night curfew in Casablanca

Government tightens lockdown measures in Casablanca to curb sharp spike in confirmed coronavirus cases, postpones re-opening of schools.

CASABLANCA - Morocco’s government tightened Sunday lockdown measures in Casablanca to curb a sharp spike in confirmed coronavirus cases after the North African kingdom reported a record number of 2234 infections in 24 hours, including 773 in the economic capital.

The government re-imposed the night curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. and postponed the re-opening of schools, which was scheduled on Monday, in Casablanca.

Local markets will close at 3 p.m. while cafes will be closed at 8 p.m. and restaurants at 9 p.m.

The start of the school year will be through exclusive distance learning for all students of public and private establishments and foreign missions in Casablanca.

Access from and to Casablanca is also prohibited, except with special authorization issues by local authorities. All these measures come into effect tomorrow Monday September 7 at 12 noon.

These measures will remain in force for the next fourteen days and the epidemic situation in the city will be the subject of a precise and continuous assessment, with a view to assessing the merits of lifting the night curfew and returning to face-to-face teaching, according to the government’s statement.

Health minister Khalid Ait Taleb warned that there was a strong spread of the virus today and that the patients who “are symptomatic will gain the upper hand over the asymptomatic cases, which would represent a danger for the hospital infrastructure and a risk of saturation in the days to come.”

"We have done what is necessary to contain the spread of the virus in Casablanca with closure measures, health and security cordons, limitation of activity and at the level of communication by encouraging people to comply with barrier measures, but in vain and we are still seeing a significant upsurge, ” said Ait Taleb.

“We risk being overwhelmed by the virus. Therefore, drastic measures are required, otherwise the situation may get out of control in the days to come,” he added.

Over one-third of Morocco's new virus infections are in Casablanca, a city of 3,3 million inhabitants with high population density and a hub for economic activity for the rest of the country.

Morocco, which is edging to 80,000 confirmed cases since March, is struggling to control the pandemic's second wave despite the draconian measures taken by the government.

King Mohammed VI warned last month that hospitals would no longer be able to cope with the pandemic if the number of infections and deaths continued to rise.

The country has a rate of virus prevalence above 200 cases per 100,000 residents for the past two weeks, almost similar to Spain’s. At least 1,361 people have died in Morocco during the pandemic.