Jordan king says virus ‘under control’

Jordan’s King Abdullah speaks at the International Conference on Cohesive Societies (ICCS) in Singapore on June 20, 2019. (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP)

RIYADH (RAHNUMA): Jordan’s King Abdullah II said Sunday that his country had successfully brought the novel coronavirus “under control” and that it was time to focus on restarting the economy.

“We have successfully dealt with the coronavirus, which today is under control in Jordan,” he said during a meeting with prominent Jordanians.

“But like every country in the world we have paid an economic price, and the time has come to focus… on the economic situation,” a palace statement quoted him as saying.

The desert kingdom, which has recorded 1,179 cases of the virus including 10 deaths, imposed a tough curfew enforced with drones to curb the spread of COVID-19, before easing policies in early June.

King Abdullah said that Jordan would “come out stronger (from the crisis) compared to other countries in the region”.

Health authorities have almost daily been reporting new cases among Jordanians and foreigners entering the country.

They have also maintained social distancing measures, made face masks compulsory in most public places and required newly-arrived travellers to wear electronic bracelets to ensure that they observe quarantine.

Before the coronavirus struck, Jordan hosted five million tourists a year, including at famous sites like Petra and Wadi Rum, bringing in $5 billion last year.

But the vital sector, which employed some 100,000 people, has been battered by the pandemic and the ensuing lockdown restrictions.

King Abdullah acknowledged the impact of the crisis but said any decision to reopen would need to be “closely examined”.

The kingdom said last month it would start welcoming overseas visitors at its private hospitals, after a months-long pause.

Around quarter of a million people used to visit Jordan annually for medical treatment, bringing in some $1.5 billion a year, before the pandemic broke out.

Unemployment in Jordan hit 19.3 percent during the first quarter of 2020.

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