Morocco halts all international passenger flights

This picture taken on September 27, 2019 shows Boeing 737 NG/Max of Morocco company Royal Air Maroc taking off from the Toulouse-Blagnac airport, near Toulouse. / AFP/Getty Images
Mohammed V Airport in the coastal Moroccan city of Casablanca.

Morocco’s foreign ministry says the country has suspended all international passenger flights to and from its territory. The measures are part of efforts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has already infected close to 20 people in the country. 

The decision follows yesterday’s move to ban flights to 25 countries, mainly in Europe and the Greater Middle East, which left many travelers stranded.

The British government took steps to alert its citizens just hours before today’s ban went into effect, warning that those who planned to visit the country “should consider seriously whether to go ahead, since it may be difficult to return.”

COVID-19 was first detected in Morocco on March 3 in two Moroccans who had traveled from Italy in late February. One of the pair, an 89-year-old woman, later died.

The outbreak has since spread to include 18 confirmed cases. Friday saw the North African kingdom move to close all schools, while yesterday saw a government minister test positive for the virus.