AMMAN (Reuters) – Jordan reported 62 new deaths from COVID-19 on Wednesday, the highest daily death toll since the pandemic surfaced in the Middle Eastern kingdom nearly eight months ago.
The health ministry also reported 4,658 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours – from 4,833 on Tuesday and a record 5,877 on Sunday – taking the cumulative total to 91,234 cases.
Jordan, which stood out among its Middle Eastern neighbours for its low figures at the start of the pandemic, has seen an exponential rise in the last month and now has the highest per capita infection and death rates of Arab states.
The government, which says there are 1,617 COVID-19 patients being treated in hospitals, has agreed to use 1,000 beds from the country’s 30 private hospitals to ease pressure on its overwhelmed public health system.
Health Minister Nazir Obeidat has warned the country has not yet reached its peak in daily cases and blamed the spread on the lack of adherence to social distancing and not wearing masks.
With one of the strictest lockdowns in the world, Jordan, a country of 10 million, got the contagion under control by the summer.
However, officials say the widespread outbreak since then, which medics link to a travellers from neighbouring Syria, has been aggravated by mismanagement in the public health sector.
The government this week extended a night curfew and imposed financial penalties on those not wearing masks in public areas.
The authorities will impose a four-day nationwide lockdown next Wednesday, a day after parliamentary elections, which they hope will help them avoid a longer lockdown that Jordan’s aid-dependent economy can ill afford
The government intends to go ahead with the election despite criticism it could aggravate the health crisis.
(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)