Middle East

Jordan records 111 COVID deaths, its highest daily toll yet

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Medical staff members assist a patient suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in an intensive care unit at a hospital in Amman, Jordan March 23, 2021. Picture taken March 23, 2021. REUTERS/Muath Freij

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AMMAN, March 31 (Reuters) - Jordan reported 111 COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, the highest daily toll since the pandemic started, the health ministry said.

It reported 6,570 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, taking the cumulative total to 611,577 cases along with 6,858 deaths.

The surge since early February, blamed on the fast spread

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of a variant first identified in Britain, has put Jordan’s

infection numbers above those of most of its Middle East

neighbours and reverses months of success in containing the

outbreak.

It forced the government to reimpose a lockdown on Fridays,

extend a night curfew and delay the opening of schools while

imposing strict curbs on gatherings and stiffer

fines for not wearing masks and ignoring social distancing.

Prime Minister Bisher al Khasawneh defended the lockdown measures against growing public criticism, saying the government's move had averted a collapse of its national health system where some hospitals are nearing capacity.

He said the government was pinning hopes on accelerating its national inoculation programme. The government had bought $100 million of vaccines to speed a vaccination drive that been slow to pick up pace until recently, Khasawneh said.

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Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Catherine Evans

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