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June 26 2022 8:18 PM ˚
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A four-day week will help reduce infection cases — Maani

4. COVID
A health worker at a COVID-19 testing site in Amman. (File photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
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AMMAN — In light of the current epidemiological situation; the anticipation of a fourth wave amid an incremental increase in infections, including with the new COVID-19 variant Omicron , former Minister of Health Walid Maani has recommended reducing work days for the public sector, as well as for schools and universities, from five to four days; a move which he believes would help prevent future coronavirus cases from surging to “exorbitant numbers” in the coming weeks. Maani, however, said the measure would exclude the corporate private sector.  اضافة اعلان

Maani told Jordan News that his suggestion must be put in context to be grasped.  “We can see evidence that active cases and positivity rates in Jordan are increasing during this fourth wave, or ‘the Omicron wave’. We will probably reach the summit of this wave within three or four weeks. Nearly 60 percent of all cases recorded have been Omicron cases. In my opinion, it is futile to extensively focus on whether someone was infected with Delta or Omicron, because it is ultimately the same infectious disease, although there are some differences in the severity of symptoms.”

However, he said that before reaching the “summit” it is possible to expect a rise in numbers on daily basis, noting that Jordan is behind Europe’s wave by a factor of nearly four weeks. If we look at Britain, after witnessing large numbers Britain is now heading towards the end of its latest wave.”

According to Maani, because in Jordan, unlike in the UK, the use of rapid flow tests is currently not allowed, citizens are required to do PCR tests at laboratories, where an average of 30,000 PCR tests are conducted daily. Maani said that if the Omicron wave continues to see a rise in the number cases, this might mean more hospital visits by patients. 

“We need to prevent our health sector from facing a critical amount of pressure before the situation becomes more challenging than it is now,” he added.

While infections will likely continue to occur, it is possible to slow down a potentially overwhelming influx of hospital visits, said Maani by “avoiding public gatherings and reducing the work days for the public sector, as well as for schools and universities.”  He pointed that the health system is not only meant to deal with COVID-19 cases, but with a host of other diseases and traumas, and therefore, “we need to protect the health sector from a potential collapse.”

Maani does not foresee any adverse impact on the economy because the public sector is not responsible for generating revenue the way the private sector is. “This is why I am not suggesting that these measures be applied to the private sector, but continuing to wear masks and ensuring that workers are vaccinated are important alternative measures.”

The four-day week could be a viable alternative to virtual learning, which proved inefficient, according to Maani, adding that this measure can be considered by the ministry if they decide against postponing the start of the second semester, currently under review by the National Epidemiology Committee.

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