Morocco reports case of COVID-19 variant, bans flights from four countries

A woman wearing a face mask walks on a street in Rabat, Morocco, on Nov. 13, 2020. Morocco registered 5,515 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, taking the total tally in the North African country to 282,336, the health ministry said in a statement. It also reported 61 new deaths from the coronavirus, raising the death toll in Morocco to 4,631. (Photo by Chadi/Xinhua)
FILE PHOTO: A woman wearing a face mask walks on a street in Rabat, Morocco. (Photo by Chadi/Xinhua)

Morocco announced suspension of all flights and passengers entry from Ireland, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand, as the North African country reported on Monday its first case of a new coronavirus variant, official radio reported on Tuesday.

The ban has been already imposed on South Africa, Denmark and the United Kingdom.

Morocco also says the country has its first case of the UK COVID-19 variant.  The case was found in a Moroccan national who arrived in Tangier-Med Port from Ireland on a ship from Marseille, France.

This case, placed in isolation in Casablanca, has not presented any COVID-19 symptom, it added.

Health experts have raised concerns over new highly transmissible mutations of the virus first reported in the U.K. and South Africa and now cropping up in several other countries. A third new variant has since been reported in Brazil.

In response, Morocco plans to launch a free vaccination campaign targeting 25 million people, or 80% of its population. The country ordered 66 million vaccine doses from AstraZeneca Plc and China’s Sinopharm. It has not yet received any.

Morocco announced on Monday 473 new COVID-19 cases, taking the tally in the North African country to 460,144 with 7,977 deaths.