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    15-Mar-2020

Schools suspended, borders closed, gatherings banned as gov't responds to continued coronavirus spread

 

The Jordan Times

 

AMMAN — Prime Minister Omar Razzaz announced on Saturday a set of new measures taken by the government to address the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus “in light of rapid global developments and with the aim of protecting the homeland and citizens”.
 
In a press statement, the government announced that all educational institutions, including kindergartens, nurseries, schools, universities, colleges, training institutions and institutes, are to be closed as of Sunday, March 15, for a period of two weeks. 
 
The Education Ministry will also start implementing its distance learning plan through national TV channels starting this week and through the Ministry's e-learning site next week. Educational directors are tasked with arranging the working hours of the Ministry of Education's employees according to the instructions issued. 
 
All flights to and from the Kingdom will be suspended starting on Tuesday, March 17, until further notice. The decision excludes commercial traffic, according to the announcement. This measure comes in addition to previous announcements suspending flights to and from countries including France, Germany and Spain as of Monday, March 16. 
 
Jordan and Egypt have also agreed to suspend flights between the two countries as of Monday, March 16, Minister of State for Media Affairs Amjad Adaileh announced on Friday.
 
Cadres of diplomatic missions and international organisations are exempted from the travel ban, provided that they observe measures imposed by the Ministry of Health, including 14 days of self-quarantine. 
 
In addition to flight suspensions, all land and sea border crossings and airports are closed to passenger traffic, with the Prime Ministry directing Jordanians abroad to remain where they are. 
 
Jordanians in neighbouring countries who are forced to return can enter through land and sea border crossings, and will be subject to the procedures of the Ministry of Health.
 
All public events and gatherings are prohibited, with the ministry instructing the public not to gather for social events, including funerals and weddings. 
 
Razzaz stressed the importance of the public's commitment to staying at home as much as possible and leaving only if necessary. 
 
Under the guidance of the Fatwa Council and the Council of Churches, prayer in all the Kingdom's mosques and churches is suspended as a preventive measure, with a commitment to continuing the call to prayer at the regular times and broadcasting a unified Friday sermon on TV stations. 
 
Visiting hospitals and prisons is also prohibited as of Sunday until further notice. Archaeological sites are closed for a week to implement sterilisation campaigns, while sporting venues, cinemas, swimming pools, sports clubs and youth centres are closed until further notice. 
 
Serving shisha in cafes and restaurants is prohibited, and cafes and restaurants are required to maintain distances between tables according to the Ministry of Health’s guidelines.
 
Work will continue in ministries, government departments and public and official institutions. As for the private sector, “measures will be taken to protect workers and ensure business continuity, in cooperation with the chambers of industry and commerce and the relevant authorities”, the statement noted.
 
Razzaz added that crisis units are “working around the clock to follow developments related to dealing with the emerging coronavirus” with a healthcare team, a team to organise and monitor the borders, crossings and airports, a social protection team, a strategic inventory team to monitor medicine and food and a media follow-up team. 
 
The statement concluded that all of these procedures will be reviewed periodically to determine whether to extend or suspend them, or to adopt additional procedures.
 
Over the weekend, two cases of infected tourists recently in Jordan were discovered abroad, and 90 people are currently in isolation in the Kingdom.
 
“Contact with the Canadian authorities was established yesterday so that we can obtain more details of the case that arrived in their country after recently being in Jordan,” said Assistant Secretary General for Primary Healthcare at the Ministry of Health Adnan Ishaq.
 
Ishaq said that an announcement from the Canadian Health Department noted that a confirmed case who arrived in Canada was recently on a multi-destination trip and had visited Jordan.
 
“The history of locations that the individual was in and the people she interacted with will be tracked by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Tourism so that they can sterilise facilities, examine people and issue quarantines as necessary,” Ishaq added.
 
The Ministry of Health has also identified and examined people who interacted with an American tourist who visited a number of countries in the region, including Jordan, and recently arrived in Israel, where she was found to be infected with the virus.
 
“As a general measure, the ministries of foreign affairs, health and tourism work to follow up on any cases announced abroad who were said to have travelled through or visited Jordan. These measures include knowing the date of the person’s arrival and departure from Jordan, the date of their infection with the virus and the facilities they visited or stayed in so that precautionary health measures, such as examination, sterilisation and quarantine can be implemented if necessary,” Ishaq said.
 
He stressed that if a person was infected abroad with the coronavirus and had previously travelled to Jordan, “it does not mean that they were infected in Jordan, as they may have been infected after leaving Jordan, while in the airport of another country or on the plane”.
 
The number of cases in quarantine has reached 90 cases, according to the Ministry of Health, “mostly consisting of people who have been abroad in virus hotspots”. The ministry noted that there are “currently no cases of infection in the Kingdom”, as the one detected case was quarantined and has since recovered.
 
 

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