Abidance by rules, expedited vaccination, ‘or new Covid waves’

Covid amman
People, some wearing protective masks, walk in downtown Amman, amid fears over rising numbers of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases. (Photo: Reuters)
AMMAN — New infections and positive testing rates are down, but Jordan is still among the most infected countries, and the end of the current wave does not guarantee the emergence of new waves of COVID-19, experts have said.اضافة اعلان

Jordan recorded the third highest number of weekly cases and deaths in the Eastern Mediterranean, according to the World Health Organizations’ COVID-19 Weekly Update.

In the past week, the number of new COVID-19 cases in Jordan hit 35,520, placing it behind Iran and Iraq in the region’s rankings. Meanwhile, 578 new deaths due to COVID-19 were recorded in the last week, a number surpassed only by Iran and Pakistan in the region.

While there has been a recent drop in cases, with Jordan recording 2,790 cases, 82 new deaths, and a positivity rate of 11.71 percent on Tuesday, the wave is not yet over.

A lack of compliance with social distancing measures and regulations, in addition to a low percentage of vaccine coverage, are the driving factors behind high caseloads in Jordan.

“The second wave will end in the next few days but there are now countries entering their third and fourth waves,” said head of the health committee at the Lower House, Ahmed Al-Sarahna, in an interview with Jordan News. “To lessen the impacts of a potential third wave, we must vaccinate the largest possible number of people and ensure that people follow safety regulations.”

The number of deaths in Jordan today, said former dean and professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Jordan University of Science and Technology Ismail Matalka, are a result of infections that happened two weeks ago. They will only fall when positivity rates drop to below 5 percent for a consistent period of time.

“We are in a race for herd immunity,” said Matalka. “The nations that reach herd immunity at a faster rate limit the number of infections, hospitalizations, the severity of waves and mortality rates.”

Strict Kingdom-wide curfews at 7 pm and full lockdowns on Fridays will remain in place until the end of the month of Ramadan in mid-May. The vaccination campaign in Jordan, though slow at first, has continued to pick up. The National Center for Security and Crisis Control reported on Tuesday that the number of people who have received the first vaccine shot exceeded 500,000 and 1.169 million people have registered on the online vaccine platform.

“One cannot just rely on people’s compliance and commitment to recommendations,” Salah Mawajdeh, adviser for government affairs for the Middle East and North Africa for Hikma Pharmaceuticals and former Minister of Health, said in an interview with Jordan News. Vaccines, explains Mawajdeh, are the only definitive way to lessen infection transmission in Jordan. To do that, however, vaccine fear must be tackled as it limits the number of those registered on the platform and those who attend their appointments. 

Although the number of cases and deaths in Jordan, as shown by the World Health Organization’s report present a bleak image, there is more to the story. According to Matalka, the most accurate way to compare COVID-19 situations is per a proportion of the population. 

Additionally, it is not enough to just look at one point in time when it comes to assessing the situation, Mawajdeh said. “Because we did severe lockdowns early on, everything that happening in Jordan is out of sync when compared to other countries – when people got the second wave we were recovering from the first, and now when other countries in the region are done with second wave we are facing it,” said Mawajdeh. “You cannot really take a picture of just one day or one week, you have to look at the whole timespan and see the general picture.”

Officials from the Ministry of Health were not available for comment.