Health minister: COVID-19 in Jordan under control

Amman, Minister of Health Saad Jaber, yesterday, joined Arab counterparts and other senior health officials in a virtual Policy Forum organized by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy discussing the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in the Arab world.

The participants stressed that Jordan’s response to the coronavirus has been met with a great deal of success thanks to the level of trust Jordanian citizens have in their government.

Addressing the forum, Jaber said that COVID-19 in Jordan is under control, with zero cases reported over the past few days.

Jaber highlighted measures taken by Jordan to contain the pandemic from its onset, noting that ” One of the reasons Jordan has been successfully in combatting COVID-19 is its expansive media education campaign and the level of trust the Jordanian government built with its citizens. For instance, since the start of the pandemic, the Jordanian government has been transparent about the number of cases and has repeatedly reminded its citizens of the necessary safety precautions.”

Commenting on refugees in the Kingdom, Jaber said that :” Jordan has also cooperated with the World Health Organization (WHO) to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in refugee camps. To date, there have been no cases in Jordan’s refugee camps.”

With regard to the economic situation in Jordan and the impacts of COVID-19 on it, Jaber stressed that: ” Over the past week, parts of Jordan’s commercial sector have been gradually reopened, starting with small shops and businesses as well as bakeries. Jordan is now at a phase in which 70% of the economy is back to operating as usual.”

Precautions measures, Jaber said, are important, adding that: ” With that being said, Jordan recognizes that taking safety precautions is still incredibly important. For example, a nightly curfew remains in place with everything closing after 6PM, and a comprehensive curfew is put into effect every Friday.”

Speaking about cases from abroad, Jaber said ” Most of the recent cases in Jordan are from truck drivers delivering essential goods to the country. For this reason, extra safety measures have been taken. Upon entering Jordan, these truck drivers are tested and quarantined for 14 days, followed by an additional test.”

Regarding the Jordanian students abroad, Jaber noted that : ” Jordan is also preparing for the return of students studying abroad. Many Jordanian students are set to return from countries that had a higher number of cases. As such, Jordan is preparing for the students to be tested and quarantined upon arrival.”

Jordanians are committed to measures taken by the governmnet due to the COVID-19 Jaber said, adding that : ” Jordanians have ultimately been willing to comply with safety precautions, like social distancing measures, because they trust the information they are receiving from their government.”

For his part, Saudi Executive Director of the Saudi Center for Disease Prevention and Control, Abdullah Algwizani said that ” To date in Saudi Arabia, there are 20,000 cases and 150 deaths. The recent uptick in cases is directly correlated to Saudi Arabia’s increased testing capacity.”

He added that since the first case was reported, his country responded proactively, and established the Coordinating Committee for Coronavirus, which meets daily.

Commenting on precautions measures, the Saudi official also said : “Early safety precautions were taken, such as banning travel to and from China, as well as implementing a travel ban for other countries, and stopping religious pilgrimages to Mecca. In addition, schools and public places, like malls and businesses, were also closed.”

He noted that Saudi Arabia has established 25 hospitals to meet the growing demand for critical care treatment, and a decree was issued that provides all citizens with reimbursements for their medical needs.

With regrad to intertnational efforts to fight the pandemic, Algwizani said : “The Kingdom also seeks to support the global response to combat coronavirus by providing 25 million dollars to the international effort.”

Commenting on a second wave, he stressed that : “Measures will also be taken to reduce the impact of a potential second wave. For example, the kingdom is making sure that citizens are getting their influenza vaccinations.”

In turn, Iraq’s Designated Minister of Health Jaafar Allwai said: “As of Today, in Iraq, there are 927 cases, 1319 cured patients, and a fatality rate of 4.6 per cent.”

He added that, “Due to 40 years of war and conflict, Iraq’s health care sector has been greatly weakened, hindering Iraq’s response to the pandemic. Several dynamics challenge Iraq as it attempts to respond to the crisis, including persistent demonstrations and riots, political uncertainty, and a drastic drop in oil prices.”

He stressed “Stringent measures, such as closing the border with Iran and stopping religious tourism and gatherings at mosques have been implemented, but they were not carried out early enough.”

Commenting on foreign aid to Baghdad, he said : “Foreign governments have provided Iraq with assistance. For example, Kuwait has contributed a large amount of money, China has supplied testing kits and equipment, and the Iraqi government is in the process of getting financial support from the US.”

The forum moderated by Executive Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy Robert Satloff, focused on challenges in the battle against coronavirus, as political conflict, refugee flows, and massive economic dislocation pose major impediments to eradicating the disease within and across international borders.

Source: Jordan News Agency

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