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20.08.2020 Morocco

Morocco closes net on Marrakesh, Casablanca as virus spikes

Moroccans wearing protective face masks in Casablanca.  By FADEL SENNA (AFP)
LISTEN AUG 20, 2020
Moroccans wearing protective face masks in Casablanca. By FADEL SENNA (AFP)

Moroccan authorities Thursday slapped tight controls on movement in Casablanca and Marrakesh, the North African country's economic and touristic capitals, following a spike in coronavirus cases.

Several districts of the two cities were to be sealed off, and opening hours shortened for restaurants, coffeehouses, businesses and public parks.

Several beaches were closed in Casablanca, Morocco's largest city with 3.3 million inhabitants, following similar measures imposed on Tuesday near the capital Rabat.

Partial lockdowns were ordered Tuesday in Rabat and the port city of Tangiers, with armoured vehicles deployed on the streets and police manning checkpoints.

COVID-19 infections have been on the rise since the start of August, reaching a rate of 1,000 new cases a day in the country of 35 million.

Wednesday's tally was more than 1,500 cases and 29 deaths.

Morocco has confirmed a total of over 46,000 cases of novel coronavirus, including more than 740 deaths.

Health Minister Khalid Ait Taleb, who has come under fire on social media, acknowledges the sector needs another 62,000 paramedics and 30,000 medical staff.

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