Jordan reports highest daily tally of Covid-19 cases

Faster transmission of the coronavirus variant first identified in Britain is thought to be responsible for the increase

A cashier wearing a face mask and gloves amid concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19) spread works at a mall in Amman, Jordan, March 15, 2020. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed
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Jordan reported 9,417 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, its highest one-day tally since the Covid-19 pandemic began about a year ago, official health data showed on Monday.

The new cases were up from 8,053 reported on Sunday.

The country of 10 million recorded 401,319 cases since March last year, with 5,428 deaths, including 82 over the past 24 hours.

Jordan is suffering a surge in infections attributed mainly to the variant first identified in Britain which has a faster rate of transmission.

The authorities announced stricter measures to slow the spread of Covid-19 last week.

In a meeting with top officials, King Abdullah II said Monday's figures were "frightening" and that he was saddened by how the country, which handled the pandemic well at its outset, was now struggling to curb the latest severe outbreak.

Countrywide protests erupted on Sunday over worsening economic conditions brought about by an extended curfew that has hurt businesses and wage earners.

Last year, the pandemic caused Jordan to suffer its worst recession in decades.

Many of the hundreds of protesters in major cities and towns called on the authorities to lift emergency laws in place since the beginning of the pandemic.

The demonstrations were sparked by anger after nine people, mostly Covid-19 patients, died on Saturday when medics in a government hospital ignored depleted oxygen supplies in respirators for at least two hours.

Mazen Faraya, the Interior Minister and caretaker Health Minister, told state television that demonstrations were wrong at a time when infections were spreading fast.

"Right of expression is safeguarded but gatherings at this time increase infections," Mr Faraya said, appealing to the demonstrators not to break the curfew.