Day 19: Under control and innovating…
Many of you expressed such a heartwarming concern about us after our last journal post. Rest assured we are fine and apparently Jordan is even finer, flying high like these kites that have increasingly appeared on hilltops. In the last two days, the government has reported just 4 new cases of Covid-19 each day after the spike that spooked us. Even better, the number of active cases tumbled to 209 from a high of around 250.
Our emotions of course are not under lockdown. As for so many others, those emotions spiked the other day, but at least are under control now. We did explore the option of repatriation flights from Amman arranged by American or European embassies via Qatar Airlines through Doha. At some point we do want to reach Portugal, which also seems to be controlling the virus spread. But for now we rest safe and sound in the arms of Jordanians.
Meanwhile, the government continues its world-class effort here to stay ahead of the virus. Health officials continue to arrest hundreds of violators of curfew, lockdown and driving restrictions, with special attention to those who disobey quarantine orders. It has started random testing in areas where low numbers of cases have been reported, as well as with shop owners, sanitation workers – and most importantly front line, medical and civil defense personnel.
At the same time, it is trying to restore some economic activity and social aid. It is cautiously allowing some previously closed businesses to open, notably the mobile companies’ shops, another of those modern necessities. To support the unemployed, Jordan is currently distributing 60,000 food coupons across the country to those without work, at about $35 USD each.
All of these initiatives are costly for a middling-wealth nation of 10 million people. Jordan has already spent about $1.5 million USD in testing alone (for as many as 20,000 tests). And then more on the extensive tracking of contacts and clusters. That effort though has made a clear difference in controlling the spread of the virus.
Alongside all the international efforts at defeating covid-19, tiny Jordan can also take pride in a scientific breakthrough. The Jordanian Society of Genetic Engineers announced it had developed the first regional coronavirus test kit for use by health authorities. Its “jocov19” kit has already proven accurate at a much lower cost than current tests and cuts the analysis time by 75%. Yay, Team Jordan, flying high!