Coronavirus Matters

Covid-19 in Morocco Update: 18 May 2021

OUR CARE 
We would like to reassure you that we will take the utmost care of both our guests and are staff (as those who have visited before know this is what we always do), but of course now there must be some extra measures in place. Our staff are all vaccinated or will be soon.

Your Safety at Our Ecolodge
Bearing in mind the latest research here are some points relevant to our site:

Aerosols (microdroplets from our noses & mouths) are the main danger because they remain in the air for a long time because they are so light in weight.

Outdoors is the safest environment because the aerosols are easily diluted and removed. It is warm enough all year round to spend much of your time outside.

Indoors: ventilation and the length of time spent there is important. All our rooms are naturally ventilated and are designed for a throughflow of air. The warmth held in the thick earth walls and insulated floors keeps the rooms warm even when ventilated. We will offer single rooms whenever we can.

Surfaces are not big transmitters – nonetheless we will keep them clean. We provide trays & have shelves in the bathrooms so the staff will not touch your things whilst cleaning.

You can talk to our manager through the window to her office which is nicely sheltered below the wide arcade or if you prefer she has a perspex screen in the reception area.

The design of our ecolodge, our exceptional staff and measures taken will, we believe, reassure you:

Half hectare plot – plenty of space to socially distance.
Floors marked in communal dining area. Wide walkways in the open air to rooms.
Private terrace for each room plus 3 large outdoor paved areas (each about 360 sq m) in the courtyard, the terraces by pool and on the roof.
Very good ventilation through doors, windows and ventilation chimneys. 3 doors & 3 windows in large communal rooms.
Design and materials will maintain comfortable temperatures whilst ventilated: thick earth walls keep warm in winter or cool in summer
57 square metre pool for our guests only; silver/copper disinfection more effective than chlorine as well as being environmentally-friendly.
Hygienic granite & marble worktops. Regular and thorough cleaning.
Regular temperature checks of staff and guests using remote laser.
Monitored careful daily cleaning including sanitising high traffic surfaces.
You may request not to have cleaner enter your room during your stay if you prefer, just collect rubbish and dirty linen outside the door.
Liquid soap for hand washing in bathrooms (all en suite).
Toilets are in a separate cubicle from washbasins. Sign on all toilets to remind guests to close the lid before flushing.
Kitchen: 17 metres long with 6 sinks set in 27 metres of granite worktops. Separate sinks designated for hand washing, fruit & vegetables, meat, fish, dish washing & rinsing dishes.
Pigeonholes in the communal area for guests from each room to keep their small possessions in (eg keys, papers, phones, serviettes).
Our very special staff have been carefully trained in new procedures.
Transfer in our own vehicle(s) from an airy, small, efficient airport.
Contactless payments option.

HISTORY OF THE PANDEMIC AND CURRENT TRAVEL NEWS

2021 Let’s start with the most recent bit of the story. Morocco opens its borders to the UK, Spain and France on May 31st 2021. Airlines currently serving Morocco from the UK are EasyJet (from Gatwick & Manchester to Agadir, Marrakech & more); BA (to Marrakech) and Royal Air Maroc (from Heathrow via Casablanca to many airports in Morocco including Agadir); from France – Transavia & Air France. This list is not exhaustive. EasyJet have a particularly attractive Protective Promise, allowing flexibility in bookings.

Covid-19 Incidence Morocco has a low rate of infection with most remaining cases in the Casablanca area, 5 hours’ drive from us. There have been no cases in the Taroudant area for some weeks.  The UK government is reviewing its ‘Traffic Light’ system every three weeks so the next review is in early June. The rates nationwide are around 8 cases per 100,000 already much, much lower than some green listed countries (which are in principle countries with under 25/100,000)  and recovery rates much higher so we would expect Morocco to go onto the green list.

Vaccinations On November 9th 2020 King Mohamed VI announced that vaccinations would be made available to all Moroccan residents. Morocco had at one point in Spring of 2021 administered 96% of all the vaccinations in Africa and far more per million population than European countries except the UK

THE STORY OF 2020
Morocco has been widely praised for its approach to control of the epidemic. In mid July 2020 there an announcement that was phase one of the opening up of Morocco (allowing Moroccans abroad & anyone with a residency card to enter). They had a fraction of the cases compared with all countries who had the opened borders in Europe.

Later the situation changed because so many people travelled to be with their families to celebrate the biggest feast of the year (Eid Al Adha) at the end of July. As a result cases have increased notably since then (mainly in the big cities – our area still has very, very low incidence). On the other hand, compared with the UK their Covid-19 case rate was relatively stable and about 1/5 of the rate in the UK (I have adjusted for their population – which half of the UK spread over a land area about twice the size of the UK) and the number of cases in Taroudant is low.

SUNLIGHT & WARMTH A study published in late June 2020 shows that strong sunlight is capable of wiping out 90 percent or more of coronavirus on surfaces in just 34 minutes – we have enough of that in Taroudant (the warmest in Morocco in the winter) as proven by the tortoises who don’t need to hibernate here because they can get enough energy from the sun.  A second study completed in 2021 showed that the virus was three times more sensitive to sunlight than influenza A and a new experiment shows that sunlight actually renders the virus inactive 8 times faster than the scientists initially predicted. If there is one thing we can guarantee it is an average of 8-12 hours of sunlight a day!

SURFACES a study published in the August 2020 edition of The Lancet a researcher reports that, in real life situations, he found “no viable SARS-CoV-2 detected on surfaces.”

TOURIST SAFE MOROCCO The authorities have put in place measures to ensure that tourists can travel safely. The airports have already been set up with hygiene and control systems. By law tourist accommodation will not be allowed to reopen until they have put into place hygiene measures which are subject to control and monitoring.

PCR TESTS Should PCR tests be required for travel on leaving Morocco they can be purchased cheaply. Even to have a doctor visit the guest house to take tests late afternoon, with government controlled taxi taking samples to a laboratory gives results in 24 hours and costs 600 dh each (about £48) for groups of 10 or more (700 Dh – about £56 – for under 10 people).

TREATMENT FOR COVID Morocco has used hydroxychloroquine which seems to have been important in keeping a low (1.7%) fatality rate and both zinc and Vitamin C are issued to patients. Professor Zemmouri, a Moroccan scientist, believes that 78% of Europe’s COVID-19 deaths could have been prevented if Europe had used hydroxychloroquine (an inexpensive drug with a long safety record); it must, however, be administered early in the course of the disease, unlike in some of the unsuccessful trails. They had been widely praised for their handling of the disease and are now donating substantial quantities of supplies for Covid-19 to several African countries, although Africa is the continent with the lowest rates of infection. The peak was reached in Morocco in mid-late November.

AIR TRAVEL
We suggest you read this to be aware of risks & follow our recommendations to prevent infection:

We feel reassured by recent research on flying. Transmission between air passengers is relatively rare- in fact an aircraft is the safest indoor space to be in thanks to filters -see more below*) and careful preventative measures can reduce the risk still further.

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology statistician reports that if you wear a mask, it greatly reduces the chance of you infecting others, but it doesn’t protect you fully, whereas a shield appeared to be up to 10 times more effective against fine aerosols than the mask. He put the chance of catching Covid-19 on a full short-haul flight at one in 4,300.

*The reason why the chances are so low is due to high-efficiency filters and that entire air volume of the cabin is exchanged with outside air every 2 to 5 minutes, hence the air you’re breathing on your flight is much cleaner and less contaminated than most office buildings. Additionally the cabin air is filtered through a HEPA filtration system 25-30 times per hour (better than N95 respirators used in hospitals) capture 95% of all particles >0.3 micrometers).

Open the air vent(s) above your head to maximise the flow which moves vertically from above your head and evacuated from beneath your feet.

Another source states “Increasingly researchers are concerned with aerosolized spread or airborne transmission, which means that smaller particles of the virus are traveling further and staying in the air longer. And to address this, distance is less important than ventilation and filtration. And aircraft refreshing cabin air every few minutes and HEPA air filters which capture most virus particles are the best mechanism to protect against this. In other words it just so happens that the mechanisms airlines have had in place even before the pandemic turn out to be the best measures to protect against Covid-19. That isn’t to say the virus will never spread on a plane, with as many flights a day and as many passengers a day travel worldwide (even with far fewer flights and passengers than before the pandemic) it’s almost certain to happen sometime. But being on a plane is one of the safest indoor environments possible.

Protect yourself further by:
1) putting a few drops of Lugol’s solution (a form of iodine) on your mask because this will kill viruses that you inhale (it is volatile). Do test that you are not allergic to iodine beforehand! A little peppermint essential oil on the tongue will have the same effect in the mouth.

2) Get plenty of Vitamins D3 & K2 & C and zinc to support your immune system (whether travelling or not!)

In case you would like to know my thoughts about keeping healthy …..