Coronavirus field hospital to open to patients in Amman

Government raises bed capacity to treat patients and considers easing restrictions

A coronavirus field hospital in Jordan’s capital will begin service this week as part of a government plan to raise treatment capacity before an expected easing of restrictions.

King Abdullah visited the 408-bed hospital last week and crews were on site finishing construction on Sunday.

A hospital staff member said on Friday that the hospital would start receiving patients on Tuesday.

The hospital has 84 intensive-care beds and 35 ventilators, and its first patients will be transferred from other government hospitals.

King Abdullah, who has been leading official efforts to contain the pandemic, has attended the openings of two other hospitals in the cities of Zarqa and Irbid since cases surged last month.

Health Minister Nizar Obeidat said workers “were honoured” by the king’s presence.

Mr Obeidat said another field hospital was planned in Irbid and two more in the port city of Aqaba and the southern city of Maan.

The three planned hospitals will have a combined capacity of 766 beds.

The king invoked emergency legislation in March to deal with the coronavirus and last month authorities reimposed a curfew as the number of deaths rose sharply.

Officials say that the authorities are considering lifting the curfew imposed since early November, particularly a ban on movement all-day on Fridays.

On weekdays the curfew lasts from 10pm to 6am.

Mr Obeidat said the government was expected to receive one million Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses by the first quarter of 2021.

The latest data shows 287,000 coronavirus cases in Jordan, with the government saying 3,758 people have died from the pandemic.

Most of the cases and deaths were officially recorded in the past two months.

They say the peak of coronavirus cases in Jordan appears to have passed and easing curfew could help to restart economic activity after a sharp decrease in government revenue from taxes and fees this year.

The Finance Ministry expects demand to be largely restored in 2021 and the economy to grow 2.5 per cent, compared to a contraction of 3 per cent this year.

The country’s economy has been stagnating for a decade, with the government saying it grew at 2 per cent in 2019.