Coronavirus: Jordan reimposes Friday curfew

Health minister says coronavirus variant first reported in Britain becomes main cause of infections in Jordan

Jordanian Minister of Health Natheer Obeidat (R) looks on as a woman prepares to receive a dose of vaccine against the coronavirus COVID-19 disease, at a hospital in the capital Amman, on January 13, 2020.  Jordan had approved the Sinopharm vaccine for emergency use, after giving the Pfizer-BioNTech jab the green light.
The Hashemite kingdom has officially registered more than 305,000 novel coronavirus cases and nearly 4,000 deaths.
 / AFP / Khalil MAZRAAWI
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Jordanian authorities reimposed coronavirus curfew measures on Wednesday, after sharp increases in the past three weeks of infections from the variant first discovered in Britain.

An official ban on movement all day on Friday, the first day of the weekend, was reimposed.

A daily lockdown was also extended by two hours to begin at 10pm, instead of midnight.

The government abandoned the unpopular Friday curfew and most other coronavirus restrictions in mid-January, because of improvements in Jordan’s public health.

Health Minister Nazir Obeidat said in Amman that recent government data “clearly indicates wide and swift spread of the coronavirus pandemic".

Mr Obeidat said the more infectious coronavirus strain reported in Britain in December had become the “prevalent” cause of infections in the past three weeks in Amman and surrounds.

He said that if the government did not act, “it would mean more more deaths and continued pressure on the health system".

“This difficult pandemic situation has called for swift and firm measures to prevent a dangerous setback,” Mr Obeidat said.

A fine of $30 was introduced on Wednesday for those found to be breaking social-distancing rules.

A fine for not wearing a mask was raised by 40 per cent to $140.

Schools, which reopened on February 7 after closing for most of last year, will stay open, officials said.

Government figures show 376,000 infections in Jordan and 4,611 deaths.

Unofficial estimates put the number of people infected at 2 million out of Jordan’s 10 million population.

A vaccination drive started on January 13 with the aim of inoculating 20 per cent of the population.

But health officials say registration to take the vaccine has been low.