Date: Mon, 19 Dec 2016 00:17:43 +0100
By Kamal Taha

Amman, Dec 18, 2016 (AFP) - Gunmen killed 10 people including a Canadian tourist and police officers on Sunday in southern Jordan, before security forces killed four attackers in a siege lasting several hours.   The shootings took place in Karak, a tourist destination known for one of the biggest Crusader castles in the region, around 120 kilometres (70 miles) south of the capital Amman.   Jordan's general security department said seven policemen, a female Canadian tourist and two Jordanian civilians were killed in a series of shootings.

It said that 27 others, including policemen and civilians, were wounded.   Four attackers who had taken refuge in the castle were killed later Sunday by security forces who had besieged them amid exchanges fire lasting several hours, a security source said.   The Canadian foreign ministry confirmed that one of its nationals had been killed in the attack and another injured in "the heinous attack."   Canadian officials in Amman are "actively working with local authorities to gather additional information and are providing consular assistance to Canadians at this difficult time," a foreign ministry official said.   "The government of Canada stands ready to assist Jordan in bringing the perpetrators of this attack to justice," a statement added.

- 'Five or six gunmen' -
Earlier, the prime minister said 10 gunmen were holed up in the fortress, while the general security department spoke of "five or six gunmen" who were thought to be involved in the shootings.   The first attack took place early in the afternoon when a police patrol went to check on a house fire in Karak, the department said in a statement carried by the official Petra news agency.

"As soon as they reached the area, unknown gunmen who were inside the house opened fire on the patrol, wounding a policeman, and then fled by car," the statement said.   Gunmen later fired on another patrol while more shots rang out from inside the Crusader castle, aimed at the Karak police station and "wounding several policemen and passersby," it said.   "Police and security forces have surrounded the castle and its vicinity and launched an operation to hunt down the gunmen."

- People trapped -
A senior security source said some people had been trapped in part of the citadel when the gunmen took shelter there, but denied media reports that they were being held hostage.   "There are no hostages. But some people who were on a lower floor were afraid of leaving as the gunmen traded fire with the security forces," the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.   He said that the gunmen were on a higher level inside the fortress.   The Jordan Tourism Board describes the Karak citadel, which dates back to the 12th century and has withstood many sieges, as a "maze of stone-vaulted halls and endless passageways."

Prime Minister Hani al-Malki, who was addressing parliament at the time of the shootings, said that "special forces and policemen are surrounding 10 gunmen holed up inside the Karak citadel."   It was not immediately clear who was behind the shootings, but Jordan has been hit by Islamist attacks in the past.   Jordan is a leading member of the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group in neighbouring Iraq and Syria.   It has carried out air strikes targeting IS, and also hosts coalition troops on its territory.

Maaz al-Kassasbeh, a Jordanian fighter pilot, was captured by the jihadists when his plane went down in Syria in December 2014, and he was later burned alive in a cage.   Karak is Kassasbeh's hometown.   In June, a suicide bombing claimed by IS killed seven border guards near the Syrian frontier.   According to sources close to Islamists, almost 4,000 Jordanians have joined jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria, and an estimated 420 have been killed since 2011.
Date: Tue, 10 May 2016 21:26:00 +0200

Petra, Jordan, May 10, 2016 (AFP) - Stables and a clinic have been installed at Jordan's famous Petra tourist site for overworked and sometimes mistreated horses and donkeys used to transport visitors.   Under new regulations seen by AFP on Tuesday, any owner who exhausts or mistreats animals in future faces having permission to work at the site withdrawn.   More than 1,300 horses and donkeys work at the fabled rose-red city hewn from rock, an attraction which also provides a living for some 8,000 people.

Owners who make animals gallop or bear too heavy a weight now face being sanctioned under the new measures.   In March last year, the Vienna-based international animal charity Four Paws and Jordan's Princess Alia Foundation began a project aimed at improving the lives of the working animals at Petra.

Stables and shaded rest areas were created at the entrance to the huge site, and a clinic to treat injured horses and donkeys was renovated and equipped.   "A lot of people in Europe called us and complained about the situation here in Petra with horses. Two years ago, more or less, it was a disaster," said Four Paws president Heli Dungler, who visited the site along with Princess Alia to inspect the changes.

The animals now have somewhere to rest, eat and drink.   "Here they can recover and regain their strength," he said.   "Along with the new regulations, this has allowed us to take the first steps to improving conditions for the horses working in Petra."   Princess Alia, who has a keen interest in animal welfare, said she hoped the animal owners would cooperate and respect the new rules.   "There will be no results if they don't," she said.

The changes at Petra should help to improve the image of the site, where the number of visitors has dropped by a third in five years.   According to tourism ministry figures, there were 900,000 visits to Petra in 2010 and 315,000 last year.   Despite its abundance of natural wonders, Jordan's tourism industry has been hard hit by the country's proximity to regional conflicts in two of its neighbours, Iraq and Syria.
Date: Sun 20 Sep 2015
Source: Petra News Agency [in Arabic, machine trans., edited]

On [Sun 20 Sep 2015], the Ministry of Health reported 2 cases of MERS-CoV infection bringing the total number of casualties for the current year to 13 cases -- including 6 clinically ill and 5 deaths [presumably this includes 2 asymptomatic infections as well]. According to the Director of Communicable Disease, Dr Mohammed Abdullat, in a statement issued by the Ministry this evening [20 Sep 2015], the 1st case is a 29-year-old healthcare worker, and the 2nd case has high blood pressure and diabetes. Both cases are currently under treatment.
[From the report above, it appears as though the nosocomial outbreak in Amman is most likely continuing, with the addition of a healthcare worker and another case with known chronic disease -- (although the geographic locations of these 2 newly confirmed cases are not specified in the above report). Hopefully more details will be available in the coming days.

The HealthMap/ProMED map of Jordan can be found at
<>. - ProMED Mod.MPP]
Date: Mon 7 Sep 2015
Source: Petra News Agency [edited]

A 78-year-old man infected with the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus [MERS-CoV], died on [Mon 7 Sep 2015] bringing the death toll from the SARS-like virus to 4 in Jordan, the Health Ministry confirmed.

Director of the ministry's communicable disease control department, Mohammad Abdullat, said the deceased was suffering from blood cancer, diabetes, and hypertension and had been diagnosed with the virus earlier after he was admitted to a private hospital.

MERS is considered a deadlier but less infectious cousin of the SARS virus that appeared in Asia in 2003 and killed hundreds of people, mostly in China.

Its symptoms can include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. There are no approved vaccines against MERS, which is believed to originate in camels.
[This makes the 7th case of MERS-CoV reported by Jordan since the beginning of the year (2015), and the 4th fatality. Presumably this case is part of the cluster of nosocomial transmission of MERS-CoV in Amman.

The HealthMap/ProMED map of Jordan can be found at
<>. - ProMED Mod.MPP]
Date: 26 Aug 2015
Source: Jordan News Agency (Petra) [edited]
A new Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) case has been recorded for a Jordanian male (38), who has recently entered the Kingdom from abroad, the Ministry of Health reported on Wednesday [26 Aug 2015].

The latest case is the 2nd in less than 24 hours.

Since 2012, 14 MERS cases have been recorded in Jordan, according to official data. [See comment following below. - ProMED Mod. MPP]

Primary Health Care Department Director in the ministry, Dr. Bashir Qasir, said the patient is receiving treatment in a private hospital and his condition is critical.

Yesterday [25 Aug 2015], the Ministry of Health announced that a man in his 60s, who has recently come from Saudi Arabia, was diagnosed to have the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and he is now in critical condition. [See section below. - ProMED Mod.MPP]
[As mentioned below, there were an additional 7 cases retrospectively diagnosed from the 1st known outbreak of MERS-CoV that occurred in a hospital ICU in Jordan in April 2012. With the report of 2 newly confirmed cases, both in critical condition, confirmed within approximately 24 hours of each other, both "imported" cases, one from Saudi Arabia, the other "from abroad," is disconcerting. ProMED-mail would greatly appreciate receiving more information on this case, especially on the definition of "abroad," whether it refers to someone on the Arabian peninsula, or elsewhere, and if so, where?

The HealthMap/ProMED map of Jordan can be found at:
<>. - ProMED Mod.MPP]
Jordan ex Saudi Arabia - press release 25 Aug 2015, RFI
Date: 25 Aug 2015
Source: Jordan News Agency (Petra) [edited]

Jordan records coronavirus case of national coming from Saudi Arabia
A new Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) case has been recorded for a man who has recently come from Saudi Arabia, the country where most cases of this disease are reported.

The man, who is in his 60s, was admitted to a private hospital suffering from breathing difficulty, coughing and fever, the ministry of health said. He was diagnosed to have the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and he is now in critical condition, the ministry added.

Since 2012, 13 MERS cases have been recorded in Jordan, according to official data.
[Prior to the report of this case, according to the statistics maintained by the European CDC, Jordan had reported a total of 19 cases including 6 deaths (<>), including the 1st known nosocomial outbreak of MERS-CoV in an ICU in April 2012. As 7 of the 9 reported cases in the original outbreak were diagnosed through retrospective serology, they have not been included in official statistics reported by Jordan and the WHO. The last reported case was an imported case from Saudi Arabia confirmed in late December 2014 (see MERS-CoV (03): Saudi Arabia, new cases, new fatality, Jordan, WHO 20150107.3077259 and MERS-CoV (68): Jordan, Saudi Arabia, RFI 20141229.3057913).

More information on the epidemiologic investigation surrounding this case would be greatly appreciated. - ProMED Mod.MPP]
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