The National - News

FEARS FOR ECONOMY SHAPE RESPONSE AS COVID-19 THIRD WAVE HITS JORDAN

The government says it does not intend to reimpose lockdowns and will consider other ways to control the virus

- KHALED YACOUB OWEIS Amman

A senior Jordanian health official said Covid-19 cases had surged in the country after infections reached 20,000 a week.

“Jordan has entered the third wave,” Dr Adel Al Belbeisi, the country’s most senior infectious diseases official, told state television.

The infection rate has risen sharply in the past few weeks.

But the government said it did not intend to reimpose lockdowns and would consider other ways to control the virus.

It lifted most coronaviru­s restrictio­ns in July, citing possible damage to the economy, which is in retreat.

Unemployme­nt is officially at a record high of 24 per cent.

Dr Belbeisi said recorded infections in the week that ended on Saturday had risen by 5,000 over those of the week before, to 20,000.

Eight per cent of those who took PCR tests tested positive for the coronaviru­s, he said.

He called for “commitment to social distances and precaution­ary measures” and for more vaccinatio­n. A second Covid-19 wave hit Jordan in the first few months of this year.

On Sunday, government spokesman Faisal Al Shboul said the government intended to issue new regulation­s within days to “confront the pandemic condition in the country, which has been on the rise”.

He said that from the start of next year, any adult who wished to enter any shop or government department will have to have received at least two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Currently, only 3.6 million people in Jordan fall into this category.

A teacher at a private school in the capital, Amman, who is vaccinated, said several primary-level classes at his school were cancelled in the past week when infections among pupils spread.

“I hope to make it to the mid-semester break safely,” he said.

The kingdom’s population is 10.2 million people and the Health Ministry says it has the capacity to administer 100,000 vaccine doses a day. Anyone aged 18 or above is eligible for the shot.

On Sunday, it recorded 14 new deaths from Covid-19, bringing the toll since the pandemic began to 11,361.

The ministry said there were 3,579 new infections, bringing the total to 914,849.

Jordan’s struggle to contain the virus has been vital for efforts to revive the tourism industry, one of the main sources of foreign revenue for the kingdom.

According to the country’s Central Bank, tourism revenue dropped by 77 per cent between the first three months of 2020 and the same period in 2021, from about $1.1 billion to $264m.

The Internatio­nal Monetary Fund said the subsequent hit

to the wider economy had a “significan­t human impact”.

But there were signs of recovery earlier this year even as growth projection­s were revised downwards by the IMF, from 2.5 to 2 per cent.

“The priority remains to manage

the fallout from the pandemic,” the IMF said in August.

Jordan’s response to Covid-19, in line with that of many other countries, had been to send tourists to quarantine hotels. Those regulation­s were eased in February this year.

Recorded infections in the week that ended on Saturday had risen by 5,000 over those of the week before, to 20,000

 ?? EPA ?? A man receives a dose of a Covid-19 vaccine in Amman
EPA A man receives a dose of a Covid-19 vaccine in Amman

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