WHO Expert Maria Van Kerkhove

Morocco has “the capacity to deal adequately” with the COVID-19 outbreak, said Director of Emerging Diseases Unit at the World Health Organization (WHO) Maria Van Kerkhove during a WHO press briefing today, April 20, in Geneva, Switzerland.

“Morocco has done a remarkable job previously on influenza and the [Middle East Respiratory Syndrome] (MERS) and we need to build on all this work now,” said the senior WHO official.

Responding to the question of a Moroccan journalist about the COVID-19 situation in Morocco and the country’s readiness to tackle the pandemic, Van Kerkhove said that Morocco and WHO have a long relationship of close cooperation.

Through the Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office (EMRO), “we have been working with the countries of the region for decades to develop diagnostic capabilities that remain valid for COVID-19,” the health expert added.

Moroccan health officials and doctors have also participated in several WHO training sessions in recent years, Van Kerkhove continued. As a result, Moroccan health authorities are well-versed in coordinating rapid response teams, case detection, contact tracing, and conducting detailed investigations of cases and epidemic outbreaks.

Meanwhile, Executive Director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Program Michael Ryan stressed the importance of cooperation between Morocco and WHO, recalling that Morocco was set to host a major international meeting on health emergencies and epidemics earlier this year.

The recent WHO comments are not the first about Morocco’s readiness to combat the pandemic. In early February, nearly one month before Morocco recorded its first COVID-19 case, WHO said Moroccan laboratories have the technical skills to diagnose the novel coronavirus.

Since January, the UN-affiliated organization has been providing countries across the globe, including Morocco, with COVID-19 test kits and issuing health recommendations to curb the spread of the pandemic.