Jordan records highest numbers of coronavirus cases in pandemic U-turn

Jordan records highest numbers of coronavirus cases in pandemic U-turn
Jordan announced a daily record of 5,877 cases among its 10 million population count, placing it amongst the countries with the highest rates of infection per capita.
3 min read
05 November, 2020
Jordan has now struggled to contain the pandemic since the start of October. [Getty]

Coronavirus cases in Jordan spiked to some of the highest per capita figures in the world, in a devastating blow for the kingdom that appeared to have have kept the virus under control. 

The country announced on Monday that it counted a daily high of 5,877 cases among its 10 million population.

This placed Jordan among the countries with the highest infection rates per capita in the world.

It also recorded 62 coronavirus-related deaths, raising the total death toll to 1,029, the country’s health ministry said on Wednesday.

"I believe that we are now witnessing the first wave – what we dealt with in the beginning was cluster cases," Ismail Matalka, the former dean of the school of medicine at Jordan University of Science and Technology, told The Guardian.

This is a surprising U-turn for the small Middle Eastern state which, as of three months ago, was lauded alongside New Zealand, Vietnam, and Thailand for its handling of the pandemic. 

This was due to Jordan's swift and heavy-handed approach to preventing the spread of the virus, which entailed closing its borders by mid-March and threatened anyone who left their house with up to one year in prison.

Jordan has now struggled to contain the pandemic since the start of October, which risks overloading a healthcare system which the World Health Organisation labelled as one of the most ill-equipped in the region to deal with the pandemic.

Health Minister Nazir Obeidat said that the situation is likely to get worse, and this is not yet the peak of infection rates in the country. He said this growing outbreak is due to a lack of social distancing and mask-wearing. 

Minister of Information Ali Al-Ayed said the government is "agonising" over the high number of deaths, especially among doctors.

In mid-September, Jordan said it would close a number of public places after a new wave of coronavirus cases in the kingdom were reported.

Schools, places of worship, and markets were closed for two weeks in a bid to stop the spread of the disease.

"We are living through exceptional circumstances," government spokesman Amjad Adailah said according to Reuters at the time.

"These measures are harsh as they are, but we hope they will reduce infections and prevent a large outbreak that would lead to a total shutdown that would have catastrophic consequences."

Jordanians re-opened schools in June and recently allowed international flights to resume, but social gatherings, such as weddings, have been banned.

Cases were rising in Jordan even before air travel resumed, with many speculating that the virus was entering the country via truck drivers delivering supplies from Syria, Saudi Arabia and other neighbouring countries. 

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