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Morocco, good pupil of vaccination, suspends its air links with France

Vaccination against Covid-19 in Salé, near Rabat (Morocco) on January 29, 2021 (FADEL SENNA / AFP)

At midnight on March 30, it will be over: no more flights between Morocco and France, neither in one direction nor in the other. The measure taken by the Moroccan authorities also concerns Spain. The last passengers who can still circulate this March 30 are systematically subjected to a PCR test on arrival on Moroccan soil. Then we close.

Morocco seeks to protect itself from the English variant ubiquitous today in France. And he seeks to preserve a more than honorable health record. With 8,807 deaths over the past year, mainly during the 2nd wave last fall, the country has a death rate six times lower than that of France, when we relate the number of deaths to the population (36 million d inhabitants in Morocco). This is the result of severe restrictive measures: closure of schools, cafes, restaurants, wearing of compulsory masks. And night curfew which has also just been extended for 15 days, when it was supposed to stop tonight. But a slight upturn in the curves led the Moroccan authorities to immediately tighten the screw, with therefore in particular this suspension of flights.

Morocco also shows good results on vaccination, at least so far with especially many people who have already received the two doses of vaccine. This is the case for three and a half million Moroccans. Or 10% of the population, three times more than in France. Morocco vaccines mainly with the Chinese Sinopharm serum, and now also with AstraZeneca and soon the Russian product Sputnik V. It was able to both place orders very early last year, and then set up an efficient organization with no less 3,000 vaccination centers and a rapid SMS registration system. All with a simple slogan: “I protect myself, I protect my country”. The elderly and teachers were the first to be vaccinated.

That said, after a booming start, the vaccination campaign is now moving much slower with supply problems on the Astra Zeneca vaccine made in India and also on the distribution of Sinopharm from China. As a result, the reservation system no longer takes appointments for the month of April. And the vaccination of under 50s is no longer scheduled for the moment. This is proof that everyone has some of the same concerns.

Morocco is also facing another problem, and that is the economic impact of containment. Gross domestic product fell 7% last year. And during the first half of the year, the poverty rate soared, multiplied by 7, reaching 12% of the population. Inevitable in a country which lives 80% of the informal economy, odd jobs, all without social security.

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To avoid the social explosion, the Moroccan authorities released emergency aid almost a year ago, which affected nearly 2/3 of the population. But this aid was not renewed. And the inequalities have therefore widened again. It is one more example of this permanent dilemma between health security and the preservation of economic activity.

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