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Confirmed COVID-19 cases rise to 259 as Kingdom sees second virus-related death

Suspension of work extended until April 15

By JT - Mar 29,2020 - Last updated at Mar 29,2020

Health Minister Saad Jaber speaks during a press briefing broadcast live from the National Centre for Security and Crisis Management on Sunday (Petra photo)

AMMAN — The Kingdom on Sunday registered 13 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of infections to 259, Health Minister Saad Jaber said on Sunday.

During a press briefing broadcast live from the National Centre for Security and Crisis Management, Jaber said that five cases were registered in Irbid, as well as the infection of two women who had arrived from the UK and have been in quarantine at designated hotels and a woman who had been in contact with her infected brother who came from Egypt.

The new cases also include an individual who interacted with an infected person in Al Hashimi neighbourhood in Amman, a person who was at the Royal Medical Services (RMS) and interacted with someonefrom Irbid, a person who was at the RMS and was transferred to Prince Hamzah Hospital and a woman whose infected daughter returned to the Kingdom from France, the minister noted.

He also announced the death of a 77-year-old patient who was receiving treatment at an RMS hospital, raising the number of deaths from the coronavirus in the Kingdom to two.

Replying to demands to conduct lab tests on quarantined individuals at Amman and Dead Sea hotels before evacuating them, Jaber said that international protocols and the majority of members at the National Epidemiological Committee suggest that there is no need for such tests, especially given that these individuals will observe a two-week home quarantine.

The minister also said that 11 of 190 students who had left the Kingdom to a nearby country tested positive for the coronavirus after leaving Jordan, adding that “we are not certain” if they were infected in Irbid, where they study, or after their departure from the Kingdom.

“Epidemiological investigation teams are now identifying people who were in contact with these students to undergo tests,” he said, adding that so far, 300 samples have been collected and are pending results on Monday morning.

Also speaking at the press briefing, Minister of State for Media Affairs Amjad Adaileh said that Prime Minister Omar Razzaz decided to extend the suspension of work as of Wednesday morning for two more weeks, until April 15.

Adaileh said that the decision excludes vital government sectors, as mentioned in previous government decisions, and vital private sectors as determined by Industry, Trade and Supply Minister Tareq Hammouri and Governor of the Central Bank of Jordan Ziad Fariz.

The minister also said that the government has witnessed “relative commitment” from citizens regarding the curfew regulations, as shown by the decline in impounded vehicles, the number of which did not exceed 200 on Sunday as of 7pm.

Also during the briefing, Brig. Gen. Mazen Faraiah, director of operations at the national centre’s crisis cell, said that the Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army has prepared a two-phase plan to evacuate some 5,000 quarantined people from Amman and Dead Sea hotels.

The first phase, which will begin on Monday at 6am, includes evacuating Jordanians from the hotels directly to their homes, while the second phase includes evacuating non-Jordanians on Tuesday at 6am according to arrangements between the Foreign Ministry and their respective embassies, Faraiah added.

The army official said that all people leaving quarantine will have to sign a written pledge to observe a two-week home quarantine, which, if broken, will cause them to be  held legally accountable. 

He added that people will be sent to their homes via vehicles of ride-hailing applications free of charge to avoid contact with others and abide by safety regulations. 

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