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A plane of Royal Air Maroc return of moroccan nationals from the chinese province of Wuhan, at the airport of Benslimane, on February 2, 2020. FADEL SENNA / AFP
The kingdom chérifien is barricade. No question that the coronavirus is elise home. With Casablanca as a hub for international air and Tangier Med as the first port of Africa, mechanisms for prevention and control are in place. Even if it slows down, obviously, business and tourism.
A few days after its launch on 16 January, the all-new direct line between Casablanca and Beijing was suspended. A rapid reaction that is not the business of all, while Morocco is a very popular destination for chinese tourists since the abolition of visas in 2016.
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The suspension of this line is even a disaster for the tourism professionals, as Jalil Madih, director general of the agency of tourism Trade, who deplores ” an avalanche of cancellations of bookings of Chinese since the second week of January and until the beginning of march. In 2019, the 150 000 chinese tourists came. We expected 250 000 this year with this new line, but the negative impact is already there “. He is pessimistic for the future and is worried that his country does not reach soon the goal of 500 000 chinese tourists to welcome, set up by the government.
“The teams are broken “
At the airport Mohammed V of Casablanca, thermal imaging cameras have been installed in emergency to check the temperature of travellers. Wet suits, masks, gloves and infrared thermometers are handy, ready-to-use. “A device that conforms to the standards of the world health Organization [WHO] “, defends Mohamed Moussif, chief doctor of the place which has it all planned.
“As soon as the alert of a suspected case by a commander in the control tower, we will activate the emergency plan. The teams are broken “, he says, since Morocco has already had to deal with the Ebola epidemic or the H1N1 flu. “But it is illusory to believe that the airport alone is a fortress impenetrable to the virus that knows no visa, no passport, no borders, says he. The persons in the incubation phase, those taking medication for fever or who return to China with an itinerary and ports of call untraceable are many cases undetectable. “
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Zainab, who embodies this risk, found herself in solitary confinement since February 2, in the center of virology of the military hospital of Rabat. Etudiante marocaine 23 years of international trade in Wuhan, the epicenter of the epidemic, coronaviruses, she was repatriated by moroccan authorities, after having lived for more than a week in the chinese city in quarantine. A nightmare remembers the girl. “The quarantine was put in place overnight. The supermarkets were closed, there was no means of transportation. It was not at all prepared, ” said she, relieved to have been able to return.
Any suspected case detected
Morocco is in fact part of the five african countries that have repatriated some of their nationals. In total, 167 Moroccans, most of them students, are currently in isolation, divided between two hospitals in Rabat and Meknes. All under the close supervision of a medical team for a total of twenty days, the length of the maximum period of incubation of the virus.
In the shiny center of virology of the capital, opened in 2016, two buildings have been requisitioned to put to one side, the women and the other men. Impossible to go to their dormitories, where towels dry through the windows. “Everything is going very well. We can not complain, it brings us everything we demand, ” said Zainab, who calls his father daily by phone.
From his office, dr. Khalid Ennibi, doctor colonel and head of the centre for virology, monitors a distance from its screen the doings of the young students in the courtyard. “In this space that is dedicated to them, they can move freely, play sports or guitar. They have to device the Wi-Fi, the television, and can communicate with their family, ” describes the doctor, a finger on its screen.
The medical staff going twice a day in combination with white to take the temperature and ask questions about the onset of symptoms such as a cough, diarrhea, or muscle aches. “If a suspect case is detected, the containment are ready to accommodate,” explains dr. Khalid Ennibi. But, for now, no suspected case has been detected.