AMMAN: Jordan hit its highest daily tally of 9,417 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours since the pandemic outbreak a year ago, official health data showed on Monday.
Sunday’s tally was 8,053 cases in the country of 10 million that has recorded 401,319 cases since March 2020 along with 5,428 deaths including 82 over the past 24 hours.
A spike in infections in Jordan has been attributed mainly to the faster transmission of the variant first identified in Britain. Stricter measures were announced against COVID-19 last week.
Meeting the country’s top officials on Monday, King Abdullah said figures were “frightening” and he was saddened by how the country, which had handled the pandemic well at its outset, was now struggling to curb the latest severe outbreak.
Worsening economic conditions brought about by an extended curfew that has hurt businesses and wage earners triggered countrywide protests on Sunday.
Jordan last year suffered its worst recession in decades as a result of the pandemic.
Many of the hundreds of protesters in major cities and towns who broke curfew called on authorities to lift emergency laws in place since the outset of the pandemic.
Demonstrations were sparked by anger at official negligence after nine people, mostly COVID-19 patients, died on Saturday when medics in a government hospital ignored depleted oxygen supplies on respirators for at least two hours.
Interior Minister and caretaker health minister Mazen Faraya told state television demonstrations were wrong at a time when virus infections were spreading fast.
“Right of expression is safeguarded but gatherings at this time increase infections,” Faraya said, appealing to demonstrators not to break the curfew.
On Saturday the health minister Nazir Obeidat was forced to quit after at least seven COVID-19 patients died when Al Salt Hospital’s oxygen supply failed.
King Abdullah was also seen ordering the hospital’s director to submit his resignation in a video that went viral.