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Covid-19: Morocco to ban arrivals from China over virus surge

Morocco will refuse people traveling from China, regardless of nationality, just after the start of the new year
Moroccan health workers scan passengers for coronavirus at Casablanca Mohammed V International Airport on 3 March 2020 (AFP/File photo)

Morocco will impose a ban on people arriving from China, whatever their nationality, from 3 January to avert any new wave of coronavirus infections, the foreign ministry said on Saturday.

Several countries have imposed restrictions on travellers from China due to a surge in Covid-19 cases.

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Thousands of tourists visit Morocco from China every year, usually travelling on flights that come via the Gulf.

"Morocco has closely followed, in recent weeks, the development of the Covid-19 pandemic in the People’s Republic of China," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. 

"In light of the development of the situation and regular and direct contact with China, and with the intention of avoiding a new wave of infections in Morocco and its repercussions, Moroccan authorities decided to prevent all travelers coming from China."

"This exceptional measure does not in any way affect the strong friendship between the two peoples, and the strategic partnership between the two countries, to which the Kingdom remains firmly attached," concluded the statement.

In an abrupt change of policy, China this month began dismantling the world's strictest Covid regime of lockdowns and extensive testing, putting its battered economy on course for a complete re-opening next year.

But the lifting of restrictions has led to Covid spreading largely unchecked and likely infecting millions of people a day there, according to some international health experts.

Last month, Morocco’s Ministry of Health and Social Protection approved the use of  China-made Convidecia Air, the world’s first inhaled COVID-19 vaccine. The move made Morocco the first "overseas approval" of the vaccine, the manufacturer said at the time. 

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