Morocco imposed a lockdown on Casablanca and shut its schools Monday, the day they were supposed to reopen after summer, in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The new measures, which include restrictions on movement and a night-time curfew, would be in place for two weeks in the commercial capital, the authorities said a statement issued late Sunday.
“We risk being overwhelmed by the virus,” said Health Minister Khalid Ait Taleb.
“Therefore, drastic measures are required, otherwise the situation may get out of control in the coming days,” the official MAP news agency quoted him as saying.
The country has seen a spike in coronavirus cases in recent weeks. It recorded 2,234 new infections on Sunday, a record for a single day, with 42 percent of them in Casablanca.
The authorities blame the spread of Covid-19 on people's failure to adhere to health protocols.
Casablanca, along with Marrakesh, had already been subject a series of restrictions three weeks ago, including beach closures and shortened business hours.
Authorities decided on Monday to close educational institutions including primary, middle and high schools as well as universities.
That came after epidemiologists voiced concern over the health system's capacity to respond to the crisis, and the additional risks posed by the start of the school year.
All exits to major cities were closed from midday, with travel only allowed with “exceptional authorization” issued by local authorities.
Since detecting its first case in early March, Morocco has recorded 72,394 cases of Covid infection, including 1,361 deaths.