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Government prepares for third phase of reopening

In addition to a lifting of curfews, most sectors are expected to be allowed to operate at full capacity

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The government is expected to announce an end to curfews in the coming days as part of its third phase of reopenings. (Photo: JNews)
AMMAN — The government is expected to announce in the coming days procedures to gradually reopen sectors that have remained closed starting on September 1.اضافة اعلان

According to a presentation issued on the Prime Ministry’s Facebook page, during the third phase of reopening, the partial curfew will be lifted in all the governorates, face-to-face education will resume at universities, schools, and kindergartens, and public transport will be permitted to operate at 100 percent capacity.

Other procedures include allowing all sectors, except wedding venues, festivals, and conferences, to work at full capacity at all times, while festivals, conferences, exhibitions, and theaters will continue to operate at limited capacity.

The presentation stated that the government’s plan will begin at the beginning of September, with the aim of achieving a safe summer.

In order to be achieved, the plan requires that people adhere to social distancing and wear facemasks. It also requires that people and businesses adhere to the Ministry of Labor’s health regulations, use the SanadJo application to check health data.

Experts and officials have shared their thoughts on the epidemiological situation in the Kingdom and expressed their support for reopening sectors.

Saad Kharabsheh, former health minister and senior epidemiology and public health consultant, said in a phone interview with Jordan News that he thinks that the epidemiological situation in Jordan allows for the reopening of sectors.
“For around the last 15 weeks, since the first week of May, Jordan has entered a stage of control over the pandemic,” he said.

“The second wave ended in the first week of May, 2021 and since that time the number of daily registered COVID-19 cases and the positivity rate of PCR tests stands at more or less 1,000 and 5 per cent, respectively.”

However, there have been some days when the number of cases rose above 1,000, Kharabsheh stressed.

Kharabsheh added that the hospital admission and discharge rates of COVID-19 patients were “almost under control.”

“There has been a balance between admission and discharge rates, so there was no pressure on the health system or on the availability of hospital isolation or ICU beds,” he said. 

“All these indicators point to us being at the flattening phase of the pandemic,” he said. “We hope that this stabilization stage will continue.”

Kharabsheh said that the effects of the vaccination campaign as well as those of natural immunity may have led to a “good percentage” of herd immunity, which he estimates to be no less than 60 percent of the Jordanian population. 

“That is why we have been in a stable state for the last three to four months.

The pandemic is under control. … We hope it will continue to be controlled after the reopening of schools, universities,” he said.

However, the former minister also stressed that he hoped those who have not taken the vaccine against COVID-19 will get vaccinated, and that people in general would continue to observe prevention measures requiring masks, social distancing, and maintaining personal hygiene.

Ibrahim Bdour, former MP and a member of the board of trustees at the National Center for Human Rights, told Jordan News over the phone that in order to get back to normalcy, herd immunity must be first achieved.

“Herd immunity is reached when 70 to 80 percent of Jordan’s population has antibodies against COVID-19,” he said.

According to Bdour, information leaked from a study conducted jointly by the World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health revealed that 70 to 75 percent of “Jordan’s population or the tested sample” has COVID-19 antibodies.

“This means that around 70 to 75 percent of people in Jordan have herd immunity,” he added.

Bdour said that the number of COVID-19 cases has not increased despite Jordan entering the third wave, people’s non-adherence to prevention measures, some people’s refusal to receive the vaccine, and school reopenings.

“These are some general indicators that we have reached population immunity,” he added.

“There is no harm in reopening sectors the first of September, but still, a quarter of Jordan’s population are at risk to COVID-19,” Bdour said.

Bdour called on people who have not gotten infected and vaccinated to take the vaccine as soon as possible because they are “the virus’s next prey.”

While some are happy with the mitigating measures, others fear possible consequences.

A 47-year-old man, who preferred to remain anonymous, said in a phone interview with Jordan News that “COVID infections will definitely increase, but the general public will be to blame. If people strictly follow the Ministry of Health’s protocols, we will be safe.”

However, 52-year-old Nadia, told Jordan News that she is concerned about a “probable overspread” of the virus.

“I have a few old-aged relatives and friends, some of whom suffer chronic diseases, and actually I am afraid of losing some of them.” 

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