Queenslander in Moroccan lockdown issues COVID-19 plea

A QUEENSLANDER in lockdown in Morocco has urged those back home to take social distancing and isolation seriously as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause concern around the world.

In Rabat, the city Jane Cornish now calls home, the army have been deployed to monitor the streets, patrolling the lockdown with tankers.

Ms Cornish has called Morocco home for almost 12 months. Last week, the country entered 'sanitary isolation', before the number of confirmed coronavirus cases even reached 100.

The Mitchell-born journalist now works as a staff writer for an online news outlet, based in the capital of Rabat.

 

Australian living in Morocco, Jane Cornish visiting Todra Gorge last year.
Australian living in Morocco, Jane Cornish visiting Todra Gorge last year.

There is no clear end date for the lockdown, but from inside the house she is waiting out isolation, life has not stopped.

"The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, but there is also fear and an obvious slowdown in the normal pace of life," she said.

"I've always felt that life is lived very much outside in public places in Morocco, and that has all changed with people now locked down."

Morocco entered sanitary isolation and restricted all non-essential movement at 6pm on Friday, March 20. Now, anyone wishing to purchase groceries or visit the pharmacy needs a permission form.

"Only essential workers are allowed to continue and require a signed permission form from their superiors," Ms Cornish said.

"Restaurants, cafes, bar, sports and entertainment venues have been closed down for around a week now. The only thing really open is food markets, including the souk, corner stores, supermarkets, bakeries, and pharmacies and medical supplies."

Ms Cornish said the Moroccan government had taken strict measures early, which was slowing the spread of the deadly virus in the country.

"I implore Australians to respect social distancing and social isolation," she said.

"I discourage you all from the ridiculous panic buying, we now have an international reputation for being toilet paper hoarders...

"...A phenomenon that is very confusing for Moroccans as bidets are popular here.

"I also hope that the Australian government works quickly to implement similar measures to Morocco. They are draconian, but they are entirely necessary to beat coronavirus and to protect the most vulnerable members of our community.

"Lockdowns have had to be enforced (in Europe, the United States) because people simply will not follow instructions even when it is literally life-and-death."

Camel train shadows in the Sahara Desert (Photo: Jane Cornish)
Camel train shadows in the Sahara Desert (Photo: Jane Cornish)

Morocco's airspace was officially closed on March 17, but rescue flights continued for a number of days to evacuate tourists.

"Normally, I live in the capital Rabat, but I'm waiting out the lockdown at a friend's house in Agadir," Ms Cornish said.

"We came down for the weekend and then decided to extend our stay, then the lockdown came into force and it became difficult to get back to Rabat.

"I'm happy to be down here though as life continues relatively normally, and we have a lovely garden. In Rabat, the army has mobilised to enforce the lockdown, and my friends are sending me videos of tanks rolling down the streets."

Ms Cornish is currently with an Australian and a Moroccan in a family home near Agadir.

"We have a beautiful garden, a small pool, badminton, petanque and a huge library of books, so there are plenty of activities to keep us busy," she said.

"I work online as a journalist though, so while I'm very thankful to have work right now, I also wish I had some more time to enjoy isolation activities."

Jane Cornish, Jana Eschbach (Germany) and Rupert Holden (Australia) in Morocco's Sahara Desert before the country went into lockdown.
Jane Cornish, Jana Eschbach (Germany) and Rupert Holden (Australia) in Morocco's Sahara Desert before the country went into lockdown.


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