Morocco extends health emergency as virus cases spike

Parents accompany children to school on the first day of classes amid measures put in place by Moroccan authorities in bid to stop the spread of Covid-19, in the city of Sale on September 7, 2020. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 10 September 2020

Morocco extends health emergency as virus cases spike

  • Morocco’s economic capital of Casablanca, with 3.3 million residents, has been under lockdown since Monday, including a nighttime curfew and closure of schools

RABAT: Morocco’s government on Wednesday extended a medical state of emergency until next month in the face of a sharp rise in coronavirus cases.

“Today, the cabinet approved a project for a decree extending until October 10 the duration of the medical state of emergency to combat Covid-19,” Prime Minister Saad-Eddine El-Othmani tweeted.

Morocco’s economic capital of Casablanca, with 3.3 million residents, has been under lockdown since Monday, including a nighttime curfew and closure of schools.

Emergency measures were first put in place in March.

Casablanca, along with Marrakesh, had already been subject to a series of restrictions three weeks ago, including beach closures and shortened business hours.

All exits to major cities in the North African country have been closed, with travel only allowed with “exceptional authorization” issued by local authorities.

“We risk being submerged by the virus,” Health Minister Khalid Ait Taleb said Sunday. “So drastic measures are in order, otherwise the situation risks spinning out of control in coming days.”

With more than 1,000 confirmed cases a day since the start of August, Moroccan media have been critical of the handling of the health crisis.

The authorities blame the spread of Covid-19 in Morocco on people’s failure to adhere to health protocols.

The country of 35 million inhabitants has recorded more than 1,400 deaths from coronavirus and over 75,721 confirmed cases.


‘Made-in-Gaza’ device fights coronavirus spread

Updated 26 sec ago

‘Made-in-Gaza’ device fights coronavirus spread

  • Innovation Makers has sold dozens of machines to supermarkets, bakeries and restaurants

GAZA CITY: Entering a Gaza City restaurant, customers are welcomed by a multi-tasking disinfection machine designed by a Palestinian businesswoman to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the crisis-hit enclave.
Spraying hand sanitizer while taking the person’s temperature, the 2-meter-high device offers an all-in-one disinfection experience.
If the body temperature is too high, a red signal will light up. Otherwise the restaurant door opens automatically to allow the customer in.
“In Gaza, we have basic devices imported from abroad to measure temperatures, and others to disinfect, but our devices combine multiple technologies in one,” creator Heba Al-Hindi told AFP.
The densely populated Palestinian coastal enclave, under an Israeli-enforced blockade since 2007, was initially largely spared by Covid-19 when the pandemic broke out.
But dire economic conditions, a poor health care system and chronic electricity shortages, partly caused by the blockade, made Gaza especially vulnerable to the virus.
Confirmed infections in the enclave have topped 5,440 with 31 deaths.
“When Covid-19 reached the Gaza Strip, I told myself I had to find a way to fight its spread,” said Hindi.
“Then came the idea of creating a sanitiser and I designed these smart machines.”
The 37-year-old mathematics graduate heads Innovation Makers, a company that has created eight anti-Covid products, including a blue and yellow robot-like machine to appeal to children.
She said the project makes money but that “our focus is not on the profit.”

HIGHLIGHT

Spraying hand sanitizer while taking the person’s temperature, the 2-meter-high device offers an all-in-one disinfection experience.

“We’re focusing on a Palestinian product and a Palestinian invention from within the siege in the Gaza Strip, to show this invention to the world.”
Innovation Makers has sold dozens of machines to supermarkets, bakeries and restaurants, for between $550 and $1,500 depending on the technology used.
The products have been patented by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Economy Ministry, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The company finds spare parts for the devices on the local market but is barred by Israel from exporting the “Made in Gaza” creations, slowing down Hindi’s ambitions.
Management at the Taboun restaurant is delighted with the disinfecting machines they bought.
“The device is remarkable,” said Matar Matar, hospitality manager at the Gaza eatery, adding that he found out about it on social media.
Customers are happy to see that “something new is being developed in Gaza,” he said.
Computer engineer Mohammad Natat, 23, said he was proud to be part of the team that created the machine.
“I had the opportunity to take part in this work and be creative in my field,” he said. “It was a huge chance to have some work.”
Around half of Gaza’s population is out of work, two-thirds of them young people, according to the World Bank, and more than two thirds of residents depend on humanitarian aid.