In the middle of the summer, Morocco is facing a violent wave of Covid-19. The country now has an average of 10,000 Covid-19 / 24H cases, and record figures in terms of deaths since the start of the pandemic in the Kingdom. The national health system is in serious danger of collapse.
Joined by MoroccoLatestNews, Dr. Tayeb Hamdi, doctor and researcher in policies and health system kindly answered our questions on the epidemiological situation in the Kingdom and where it is heading.
MoroccoLatestNews: How do you see the epidemiological situation in Morocco?
Dr. Hamdi : The epidemiological situation in the country is too worrying, due to the acceleration of the spread of the virus as evidenced by the evolution in the red of several indicators. In terms of contamination cases, we have reached a record of 10,000 cases per day.
In the space of two to three weeks the numbers have changed rapidly. The positivity rate increased from 3%, 4% and 5%. Today we have reached a rate of 20, 21%, while in some cities the rate is much higher.
Then we have an RT, growth rate of the virus, which was between 0.7 / 0.9, today we are over 1.45. And we have more and more cases coming to intensive care and an increase in the number of deaths.
Admittedly, the contamination curve is not accompanied in a parallel manner by the same curve of death and serious cases, and this, thanks to the vaccination of more than 30% of the Moroccan population, especially people over 40. years. Then we have a good vaccination coverage of people over 60 years old, which reached 96.97%. Then 70% coverage for people aged 40 to 60. But we must protect as many vulnerable people as possible who can end up in intensive care and upset the health system.
Young people must also be vaccinated to stop the spread of the virus and protect them, their families and elders. The goal is to achieve this collective immunity quickly. If the virus kills more older people, it will kill the future and the lives of young people. How? ‘Or’ What ?
Young people will no longer have the right to go to a match in the stadiums, they will no longer have the right to go out as they wish at night, to sit in the cafe, they will not be able to find a job and will be unemployed. So everything is linked.
We therefore need to vaccinate more and we are in the process of doing so. We are recording records in terms of vaccination, but also a bad record of cases of contamination and that may increase even more in the days to come.
This is why we are calling on the population to be more vigilant and to respect barrier measures. Certainly, the state will tighten the restrictive measures a bit to control the situation and avoid an uncontrollable level of pandemic. In any case, the deterioration of the epidemiological situation is expected. We only hope that this deterioration will only concern new cases instead of severe cases.
Can the increase in cases of contamination lead to a new total closure (containment, closure of borders)?
Every country in the world, including Morocco, is trying to avoid a collapse of their health system. That is to say, a situation where the number of people who need a bed in intensive care or hospitalization, oxygen or a doctor, exceeds the capacity of our health system.
Because, if the health care system collapses, it is a disaster. It’s worse than the pandemic itself. In this case, even people with moderate forms of covid-19, will not have access to care, let alone people who will need oxygen or a resuscitation bed and who will not find a place in hospitals.
In this case, and instead of having a case fatality rate of 1%, we will have a rate of 6 or 7%. And as a result, we will see the collapse of the health system in addition to the proliferation of deaths. So there will be no more room in intensive care units, in emergencies or even in cardiology and brain emergencies, and we will no longer be able to save people, who are usually rescued. They will no longer find a place in hospitals.
We will therefore face an even greater excess mortality than during a pandemic. In any case, this is the scenario that every country tries to avoid.
How to avoid it? First, by vaccinating as much as possible. This reduces severe cases and deaths by 90%. And we also reduce the use of care, the use of hospital, resuscitation or oxygen.
Second, the population must respect the barrier measures. It is unacceptable to see these reunions of friends or family, weddings, funerals, which take place in the total absence of barrier measures.
If we vaccinate more, if the population does what it has to do in terms of compliance with the measures, and if these two axes fail to control the epidemiological situation, the State will intervene, as part of its role. referee, to limit the spread of the virus.
Because the virus is spread through the mobility of citizens, and meetings. To reduce the spread of the virus, the population must limit its movements and meetings, in any case, not very closely.
If these measures are not enough to protect the country and our health system, the State will intervene by imposing restrictive measures to limit the movements of the population and meetings. In any case, we will need Morocco to toughen restrictive measures but also the mobilization of the population by getting vaccinated and respecting the barrier measures so as not to go towards a hardening of measures and avoid general or local confinement. The latter is certainly on the options table, as is the hardening of measures.
Measures that must certainly be taken if the pressure on the health system is felt in a significant way. Then, we cannot continue to protect the population by restrictive measures, while a part of this population has not been vaccinated while the other part does not respect the barrier measures. It is therefore unacceptable to have recourse to restrictive measures when the situation can be remedied by having recourse to less draconian solutions.
What do you think is the solution to avoid a health disaster?
The solution to avoid a catastrophic scenario, and fortunately there are solutions, few though they are. Since, unfortunately, there are not many. It’s vaccination. We need to vaccinate more, to vaccinate faster, and for people over 40 to catch up on vaccination. Everyone needs to be vaccinated.
But essentially, and urgently, people over 40 and people with chronic illnesses. It’s super important.
Second, we must respect the barrier measures. And of course, tighten restrictive measures if necessary. Fortunately, there are its solutions, practical and effective. They have been used and they have proven their effectiveness over the past few months. Fortunately we have its solutions, and unfortunately we only have these solutions.
In terms of vaccination, things are progressing well. But for the respect of the barrier measures, unfortunately, a large part of the population does not follow. People see how the situation is deteriorating day by day, they are aware of the problem and know that their knowledge is not reflected in their behavior.
Whether at family gatherings, in cafes, supermarkets … there is no longer any respect for barrier measures. If these are not respected, we are left with restrictive measures. Reason why I said that there was only this solution.
The solution therefore remains vaccination and compliance with barrier measures. It is a shame if we only rely on restrictive measures to control the epidemiological situation that we could control without resorting to restrictive measures which are increasingly harsh and disabling for our social, religious, educational, economic, tourist life. and other.