Plan to prevent spread of Indian variant laid out

India-variant covid hospital
Health workers wearing personal protective equipment attend to Covid-19 coronavirus positive patients inside a banquet hall temporarily converted into a COVID care center in New Delhi on April 28, 2021. (Photo: AFP)
AMMAN — The Ministry of Health has prepared a “set of strict measures” to prevent the Indian variant of COVID-19 from entering Jordan, member of the national committee for epidemics, Basem Al-Hajjawi, said on Sunday.اضافة اعلان

Under the measures, non-Jordanians trying to come into the country who have previously been to India are not permitted entry until 14 days after they have left India, while Jordanians who have been to India will undergo institutional quarantine, or quarantine that is institutionally supervised, for a duration of 14 days.

“Jordanians coming from India are subject to security and health monitoring, to prevent the spread of the Indian variant in the Kingdom,” Hajjawi said.

Minister of Health Fares Al-Hawari had announced earlier in the day that there were three cases of the Indian variant that had already been detected in Jordan — two in Amman and one in Zarqa — noting that the carriers have not left the country recently. However, Hawari said that the variant did not necessarily come from abroad, but might have been the result of a local mutation.

The minister also announced that seven Jordanians had arrived at Queen Alia International Airport, and that they had traveled through Arab Gulf countries, before departing from India. None of them are carrying the Indian variant according to the minister, he noted however, that they will be quarantined for 14 days “as a precautionary measure.”

In remarks to Jordan News, Hajjawi said that at the moment, the main objective is to intensify the vaccination campaign, as that is the only way to fight off all variants of the virus.

The Health Ministry’s secretary general for pandemic affairs, Adel Balbisi said that the three cases recently discovered carrying the Indian variant have been quarantining at home for the past five days, stressing that all those who came in contact with them have been tested.

Dr Mohammad Hasan Al-Tarawneh, a chest diseases, critical care, and sleep disorders consulting physician, said that the presence of the three cases in the Kingdom indicates that the variant has been around undiagnosed for some time.

The World Health Organization (WHO) describes the variant, first identified in India last December, as a “variant of interest”, suggesting it may have mutations that would make the virus more transmissible, cause more severe disease, or evade vaccine immunity. Other strains with known risks, such as those first detected in the United Kingdom, Brazil, and South Africa, have been categorized as “variants of concern”, a higher threat level.

Tarawneh, however, expects that the WHO will upgrade the variant’s classification “soon”, referring to the fast transmission rate witnessed in India.

Vaccine producers Pfizer and Moderna have announced that their vaccines demonstrated high efficacy against various variants, but Hajjawi stresses that “all vaccines are effective, but to varying degrees.”

For his part, member of the board of trustees of the National Human Rights Center Ibrahim Bdour said called for quarantining those infected with the Indian variant in “special isolation sites,” to prevent the spread, noting that the variant can still be controlled due to the small number of those infected.

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