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Morocco enforces mandatory mask-wearing

As of today, the wearing of masks will be obligatory for any Moroccans venturing outside as the north African country mirrors others like Kenya in adopting strict measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Morocco was one of the first countries in Africa to react to the COVID-19 pandemic, taking decisive and rapid action. It has also enforced some of the strictest measures, with outside exercise banned.

Despite having one of the better healthcare systems on the continent, the government knows that any mass outbreak of the virus would cause immeasurable damage to the economy.

The country’s minister of trade and industry, Moulay Hafid El Alamy, is also using the country’s strong industrial base to turn production lines to produce essential equipment.

Lockdowns, however, will need to be lifted at one point; the question is how. Austria in Europe will become of the first countries to relax its curbs.

Like Morocco, it is insisting on the wearing of masks for anyone venturing out. Germany is discussing similar measures.

Japan yesterday announced a partial lockdown strategy, having taken the view to minimise disruption to the economy. It has so far recorded a low number of cases and deaths.

Masks are the norm in the country and it is said that social norms have contributed to the low numbers there. Sweden in what is seen as a massive gamble by its neighbours in Europe has enforced social distancing but has largely kept the economy open for business.

It is hard to say what’s right or wrong. The health cost will inevitably need to be balanced with the economic and social cost. There are different strategies and tactics and these will need to be adapted depending on each country’s capabilities.

To read our explainer on testing, lockdowns and exit strategies, click here.

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