AMMAN: Only a month after schools in Jordan began to reopen, authorities announced on Tuesday that they will be closed again from Wednesday until further notice.
There has been a surge in COVID-19 cases in the country and officials had previously warned that precautionary measures would be strengthened should the disease continue to spread rapidly.
An additional 7,072 cases of the disease were confirmed on Tuesday, raising the total in the country to 442,202. A further 59 people died of conditions related to COVID-19, bringing the death toll to 5,046.
Schools in Jordan began to reopen on Feb. 7 after a nationwide shutdown imposed at the height of the pandemic last year. A gradual resumption of in-person teaching was planned, with kindergarteners returning first, followed by first graders and general secondary (Tawjihi) students, then other grades by March 7. However the second phase was put on hold by authorities who said that high numbers of students and teachers had contracted the virus and spread it to their families.
Jordan, which launched a national vaccination drive in mid-January, has said it initially plans to vaccinate 20 percent of its 10 million population. However progress has been slow, with authorities blaming a lack of vaccine doses.
Minister of Health Nathir Obeidat said that Jordan, in common with many other countries, is facing difficulties in obtaining sufficient amounts of the vaccines, but that more supplies will be delivered this month under contracts with pharmaceutical companies and the World Health Organization’s COVAX program. COVAX aims to ensure people in all nations, including developing and middle-income countries, have fair access to vaccines.
In January Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh told the Jordanian parliament that the government had signed a deal to buy 1 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, and secured an additional 2 million doses through COVAX, with talks under way to obtain more.