The Kingdom of Jordan has implemented one of the strictest lockdowns in the world. As a way to stop the spread of COVID-19, Jordan has forced most people to stay home and it took a further step to contain the outbreak by shutting down even grocery stores, pharmacies and banning people from going out for walks or allowing their pets outdoors, as well as suspending international flights.
With 10 million residents, around 1,600 citizens have so far been arrested for breaking the five-day curfew. Following the three days of complete lockdown, the Kingdom has assigned a number of city buses to deliver bread and other essentials directly to the citizen’s houses. It had also considered ensuring the distribution of cigarettes to smokers around the country since Jordan is considered among the highest smoking countries in the world.
“The situation is very tense, it’s like we’re living in the Hunger Games. Since the quarantine period was issued everyone around Jordan was at risk of being fined if he/she goes out. A fine can reach up to 3000 Dinars, and anyone who drives during the lockdown his/her car gets confiscated for fourteen days. And no one is allowed to go outside unless he/she are doctors holding a permit from the government allowing them to to go out to mainly help paients.”Dr. Bayan Al Rasheed, a resident of Jordan
The Kingdom of Jordan is actually among the four Levant countries where strict lockdowns measurements are being implemented.
The shutdown has had severe economic and political repercussions in the already struggling countries. The Levant’s number of confirmed cases remains low for the moment. However, due to the strong relationship between Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon with Iran, and most importantly because those countries lack the state capacity to contain the virus, COVID-19 is likely to spread widely in the region.
The civil war in Syria and de facto state failure in neighboring Iraq and Lebanon have left these countries with no strong or legitimate political leadership, not to mention the lack of institutional structures that are needed to deal with the threat posed by the global pandemic. Therefore with no efficient healthcare systems, especially in Iraq and Syria, this vicious dynamic is going to push the Levant countries into an economic collapse.
There is a particular concern regarding the wellbeing of the Levant’s huge number of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDP). With more than 5.5 million Syrian refugees in the Middle East, and more than 6 million Syrian IDPs, including 1 million people who have fled the recent fighting in Idlib, Syria. Not to mention the fact that Iraq is currently home to 1.5 million IDPs, according to ECFR.
These refugees and IDPs live in very unsanitary and overcrowded camps that are mainly known for their limited medical facilities, which makes those refugees deeply vulnerable to the novel coronavirus.