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Gov’t intent on continuing curfew to halt spread of COVID-19 — Razzaz

By JT - Mar 22,2020 - Last updated at Mar 22,2020

Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Omar Razzaz speaks during an interview with the Al Arabiya and Al Hadath television channels at the National Centre for Security and Crisis Management on Sunday (Petra photo)

AMMAN — Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Omar Razzaz on Sunday affirmed that the implementation of Defence Order No. 2 of 2020, which imposed a curfew in the Kingdom as of Saturday, is a preemptive decision aimed at preventing contact between citizens, which poses the greatest threat by quickening the spread of COVID-19.

During an interview with the Al Arabiya and Al Hadath television channels at the National Centre for Security and Crisis Management, Razzaz noted that the government resorted to imposing the curfew in order to stave off the repercussions of the virus’ spread, considering its impact on public health and safety.

Razzaz stressed that a critical aspect of the curfew is that citizens leave their homes only for the utmost necessities, with the exception of those who must leave their homes due to the nature of their work, the Jordan News Agency, Petra reported.

"These measures are among the best practices around the word when comparing countries that have limited the spread of the virus to those in which the pandemic has spread,” the premier said.

Razzaz stressed that the government will insist on continuing the curfew, but may prolong it in different forms, and will provide the basic services needed by citizens.

"Citizens cannot remain in their homes indefinitely; they need food, medicine, water and petroleum products," he noted.

In regards to citizens’ fear of the virus, Razzaz said that fear is caused by a lack of correct information.

The premier stressed: “We pledged to openly disclose information related to COVID-19 to citizens, and this has helped in limiting the spread of rumours and false news about the number of cases and other issues.”

He pointed out that the vast majority of citizens have come to realise and trust that the government directly announces the numbers and details of cases through the official spokesperson of the government.

"When information is provided accurately and the methods of preventing the virus are explained, citizens are more reassured," he said.

He added that the government has published “many messages” to raise awareness about the disease, its seriousness and symptoms to ease public fear concerning the virus.

He noted that people are able to combat the virus by staying at home and distancing themselves from others as much as possible, in addition to wearing masks and protective gloves, especially for those who come into contact with others due to the nature of their work.

Regarding local studies to discover a drug or vaccine to treat the novel coronavirus, the prime minister noted that the National Anti-Pandemic Committee is looking to international procedures, experiments and preliminary indications for dealing with the virus.

He affirmed that Jordan “has a health and medical sector to be proud of”, noting that pharmaceutical research for the global industry has been conducted in the Kingdom.

The premier said that His Majesty King Abdullah closely follows formal procedures to deal with the developments of the virus and its spread, noting that the government holds daily meetings at the National Centre for Security and Crisis Management with security entities and official teams to discuss responses to the pandemic.

In response to a question about the readiness of government hospitals in the event that the number of coronavirus cases in Jordan rises to more than 1,000 cases, the prime minister stressed that there are many scenarios that are presented daily to the government about the number of cases.

He added that the best-case scenario in limiting the spread of the virus is if the number of cases witnesses a rise followed by a fall, expressing hope that this is a possible scenario for Jordan.

He pointed out that the Kingdom, in the quarantine phase, has adopted the use of hotels for arrivals from abroad, adding: "We are, at this stage, comfortable with our infrastructure and services."

Razzaz said that the government has readied itself for a rise in coronavirus cases by preparing colleges, universities and hotels that have been completely sterilised.

He praised the capacity and readiness of hospitals in Jordan, highlighting that the Kingdom has hospitals dedicated to isolation and quarantine.

Razzaz commended the public’s awareness of the seriousness of the situation, saying: “We always count on the awareness of our citizens, but if we are forced, in these exceptional circumstances, to preserve citizens’ health, we will have to let the law take its course.”

He thanked aware and educated citizens, noting that the vast majority of citizens are now fully adhering to the government’s  advice and measures, despite a few who have not heeded instructions and were faced with government security measures.

The prime minister concluded his interview by saying: "This crisis is an opportunity to learn, and we believe that with hardship comes relief and, God willing, we will overcome this crisis safely."

Also on Sunday during an interview with Al Jazeera, Razzaz said that Jordan has applied an “authentic model” to protect Jordan from the novel coronavirus.

The model, he said, depends on a high degree of awareness, education and commitment among citizens, whom “we thank for their commitment and sense of responsibility towards themselves, their families and their homeland.”

"We are proud of this Jordanian model in which quarantine has started with five- and four-star hotels. Although we are not a rich country, we are utilising all our resources to make these efforts successful," Razzaz added.

The prime minister noted that work is currently under way to find an appropriate mechanism to deliver essential supplies and medicines to citizens in their homes.

"We are not unaware of the citizens’ basic needs, which do not include luxuries, and we will organise this issue, which requires citizens’ full commitment to the procedures that will be announced," he said.

Regarding the number of coronavirus cases in Jordan reaching 99 on Saturday, Razzaz said: "It is normal for there to be a daily increase; it is one of the smallest increases in the world, but we should not underestimate this number."

 "We are ready to deal with all possibilities," the prime minister stressed.

"If there is a need or a reason to [medically] quarantine or isolate greater numbers, the infrastructure is available in hospitals and clinics in the public and private sectors," he said.

“We are united in the public and private sectors, the armed forces and the security services, and we have a health sector that we are proud of and infrastructure we can rely on in different scenarios,” he concluded.

 

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