House Health Committee recommends ban on New Year celebrations

A general picture of Amman’s empty streets during a nationwide curfew imposed due to COVID-19. (Photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — The Lower House’s Health and Environment Committee has recommended banning all public events and gatherings for the New Year amid a growing number of COVID-19 infections and reported cases of the new variant, Omicron.اضافة اعلان

Head of the committee, Farid Haddad, said that based on the panels meeting and Ministry of Health officials, it was decided to recommend a ban on "all kinds of parties and gatherings to prevent placing additional pressures on the healthcare sector." The committee will request a discussion of the issue with the government in the coming days.

Haddad said the government should be obligated to compensate businesses that have booked and incurred the cost of signing agreements with artists and performers for scheduled events taking place during the festive season. “Otherwise, citizens will pay the price of canceled parties,” he said.

Haddad, a physician, said that the behavior of the new mutant Omicron remains unclear, “so under the circumstance, there is no room for risk-taking.”  

Health officials say precautionary measures should be in place not only because of Omicron but because of the increasing number of COVID-19 Delta variant infections.  The Epidemiology Committee has reported 70,000 active Delta cases in the Kingdom, and the number is expected to continue to rise.

Azmi Mahafzah, a former minister and professor of microbiology and immunology, expects the third wave of the pandemic to reach its peak next week before it begins to subside.

"Focus now should be on vaccinating people and on preventive measures, as the current wave has been largely due to failure to commit to defense orders and refusal by many to take the vaccine due to ignorance and suspicions," he said.

Mahafzah believes that the authorities have not done enough to talk people into getting immunized, although vaccines have been made available and procedures simplified. "We are now left in a situation where Jordan is regrettably among Arab countries with the least turnout for the vaccine,” he said, cautioning citizens against being influenced by “misleading social media messages” that allege vaccine-related risks.

Mahafzah blamed the government for what he described as “failure to reach a large percentage of the population, who remain unvaccinated, primarily in the age group 60-70 years old, particularly that most fatalities are recorded in this category."

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