Five-star coronavirus quarantine: Jordan’s Dead Sea isolated describe lockdown

The kingdom has reported 35 cases of infection, nine of them foreign nationals

Movenpick Dead Sea Resort, Jordan

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The five-star Movenpick Resort and Spa Dead Sea usually costs upwards of Dh275 per room per night, but now hundreds of guests are staying for free – in a 14-day coronavirus quarantine.

Both citizens and foreigners arriving into Jordan by air and border crossings were taken to quarantine in Amman and the Dead Sea on Monday, regardless of being symptomatic or not.

The 6,000 square metre site has swimming pools, nine restaurants and a spa offering luxurious treatments using the famous Dead Sea salt.

Unfortunately, those in quarantine aren’t allowed to enjoy the perks of being housed at one of the country’s most exclusive hotels, said Tasneem Irshaid, 21, who was taken into quarantine off her flight into Queen Alia airport from Chicago where she is studying.

“Communication is not allowed and leaving your room is not allowed,” she told The National.

“The hotel is filled with gendarmeries [police], so no one can leave.”

Jordan is responding to the global crisis of coronavirus, or Covid-19, as it announced its 35th case on Tuesday, nine of whom are foreign nationals.

Other measures introduced by the kingdom include halting all non-essential medical procedures, a temporary shutdown of the private sector and most government institutions.

As it moved to isolate returnees in hotels in Amman and the Dead Sea, the government urged Jordanians in other nations to stay put instead of flying home.

Far from taking the enforced break to relax, Ms Irshaid, says she is anxious about her university studies.

“I’m kind of feeling stressed and worried because I have finals to do online,” she said on Tuesday.

Mohammad Yaghi, 24, is also quarantined at the 265-room Dead Sea Spa Resort. He says about 200 people are staying at the hotel, 420 metres below sea level.

He was returning from taking an exam in the UAE via Bahrain when he was quarantined.

"It was like a normal situation till we received our baggage," he told The National. "Then I saw a lot of people standing around. After this, some medical staff told us that we are going to quarantine."

At the hotel, Mr Yaghi said he was assigned a room to himself, like others in hotels across the area.

Despite the quarantine, Mr Yaghi jokes that his routine won’t change much from being at home – “browsing the internet, watching TV… also, I have my laptop with me,” he said.

Mr Yaghi said he feels calm about the situation, but “somehow my family are worried”.

Ms Irshaid too is trying to assure their families that all is well.

“My family were at first so worried and scared, but when they knew we’re going to a good and a clean place, not to hospitals, they felt better,” Ms Irshaid said

They both praised the few “nice and helpful” staff still at the resort to keep the new guests comfortable.

“The staff are very nice and helpful. Food arrives to your room. You can call and ask for anything if you need anything,” Ms Irshaid said, adding that Health Ministry representatives have already visited repeatedly to check for symptoms of the virus.

It may be a lonely fortnight ahead, but Mr Yaghi agrees with his government’s course of action.

“Absolutely it is the best thing to do in this situation, especially that all cases are from outside.”

Both the Movenpick and Dead Sea Spa hotels did not respond to requests for comment.