Child dies and hundreds ill from food poisoning in Jordan

Hospitals admitted more than 800 people from the Baqaa Palestinian refugee camp who ate tainted shawarma

More than 100,000 Palestinian refugees live in the sprawling Baqaa camp north of Amman in Jordan. Salah Malkawi / The National
More than 100,000 Palestinian refugees live in the sprawling Baqaa camp north of Amman in Jordan. Salah Malkawi / The National

A three-year old child died from food poisoning and 826 other people were hospitalised this week after eating shawarma from a fast food outlet in a Palestinian refugee camp north of Amman, Jordanian health officials said.

The restaurant in the Baqaa refugee camp stored meat in a refrigerator that was not working, the officials said. The restaurant owner and two employees have been arrested.

Jordan is in the midst of a heat wave and the restaurant was offering shawarmas for one dinar (Dh5) each, half the usual prince, local media said.

Hospitals began receiving the first cases of food poisoning on Monday and casualties kept pouring in throughout the week. Four people are in intensive care among more than 300 still in hospital.

Health ministry official Nizar Muhadat said the restaurant was cited for “embarrassing deficiencies” in food safety and ordered to close last month.

The restaurant was allowed to reopen on condition of rectifying its hygiene situation but “there was no full compliance”, Mr Muhadat told a news conference in Amman on Wednesday.

He said lab tests showed that the meat was infected with harmful bacteria.

Baqaa is a sprawling slum that grew around a refugee camp set up in 1968 on the road between Amman and the Syrian border. It houses at least 100,000 Palestinians.

Unemployment in the camp is 17 per cent. The latest UN figures from 2013 show that one third of the camp’s population lived below the Jordanian poverty line at the time of $1,140 per capita per year.

Published: July 30, 2020 02:21 PM

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