British holidaymakers face being stranded in Morocco amid coronavirus chaos

British tourists face being stuck in Morocco following the Kingdom’s decision to impose a travel ban this week in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus. (AP)
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Updated 18 March 2020

British holidaymakers face being stranded in Morocco amid coronavirus chaos

  • UK’s Ambassador to Morocco Thomas Reilly has reassured British nationals stuck in the country

LONDON: British tourists face being stuck in Morocco following the Kingdom’s decision to impose a travel ban this week in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Social media accounts from UK holidaymakers in the country suggest chaotic scenes at Marrakech and Agadir airports, despite the Moroccan authorities green-lighting 100 “rescue flights.”

The UK’s Ambassador to Morocco Thomas Reilly has reassured British nationals stuck in the country that the embassy was doing everything possible to repatriate them, according to the Guardian.

“Please bear with us, I know this is horrible for you guys. We are doing everything we can,” he tweeted on Wednesday.

He urged any British tourists to follow the embassy’s social media pages for more information.

His efforts have been praised in some quarters, but others were critical of the British authorities’ response.

One tourist, Rory O’Connor, who is trapped in Marrakesh, spoke to the Daily Mail: “We've been in a queue for easyJet for four hours. We’re probably still another hour to an hour and a half from the front.”

He said many holidaymakers were being given conflicting advice from the embassy and airport workers.

“The information being provided by the British Embassy is completely different to what’s being said at the airport,” O’Connor told the MailOnline.

“The ambassador claimed he was getting 30 planes sent over but easyJet, Ryanair and British Airways have no information on the flights. The Embassy has been useless,” he said. 

Another British visitor spoke to the Guardian and said she feared for her asthmatic mother and her 72-year-old husband, who were stuck at Marrakech airport for hours.

“They were told their British Airways flight tomorrow was cancelled, no flights available with other carriers and to ‘contact the Embassy.’

“When I got through to the Foreign Office they told me to follow the ambassador’s Facebook page which had the most up to date info. The Foreign Office said they were ‘trying to confirm where the ambassador got his information that rescue flights were being laid on from’ which has made me extremely anxious.

“The French government seem to have laid on repatriation flights, apparently the Germans at the airport say the same,” she said.

Morocco suspended all international flights on Monday as part of its measures to prevent the spread of the virus.


US to pay over $1bn for 100m doses of J&J’s potential COVID-19 vaccine

Updated 35 min 37 sec ago

US to pay over $1bn for 100m doses of J&J’s potential COVID-19 vaccine

  • The latest contract equates to roughly $10 per vaccine dose produced by J&J
  • This is J&J’s first deal to supply its investigational vaccine to a country

WASHINGTON: The United States government will pay Johnson & Johnson over $1 billion for 100 million doses of its potential coronavirus vaccine, its latest such arrangement as the race to tame the pandemic intensifies, the drugmaker said on Wednesday.
It said it would deliver the vaccine to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) on a not-for-profit basis to be used after approval or emergency use authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
J&J has already received $1 billion in funding from the US government — BARDA agreed in March to provide that money for the company to build manufacturing capacity for more than 1 billion doses of the experimental vaccine.
The latest contract equates to roughly $10 per vaccine dose produced by J&J. Including the first $1 billion deal with the USgovernment, the price would be slightly higher than the $19.50 per dose that the United States is paying for the vaccine being developed by Pfizer Inc. and German biotech BioNTech SE.
The US government may also purchase an additional 200 million doses under a subsequent agreement. J&J did not disclose that deal’s value.
J&J plans to study a one- or two-dose regimen of the vaccine in parallel later this year. A single-shot regimen could allow more people to be vaccinated with the same number of doses and would sidestep issues around getting people to come back for their second dose.
This is J&J’s first deal to supply its investigational vaccine to a country. Talks are underway with the European Union, but no deal has yet been reached.
J&J’s investigational vaccine is currently being tested on healthy volunteers in the United States and Belgium in an early-stage study.
There are currently no approved vaccines for COVID-19. More than 20 are in clinical trials.