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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Jordan protesters hold nationwide demonstrations for second day after Covid-19 oxygen deaths outrage

Protesters demanded coronavirus restrictions be lifted to help Jordan's economy [Getty]

Date of publication: 15 March, 2021

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Jordanian protesters reportedly chanted anti-government slogans and demanded an end of coronavirus restrictions.
Protesters took to the streets across Jordan on Sunday following anger over the deaths of at least six Covid-19 patients due to oxygen shortages at a state hospital, according to witnesses.

Hundreds of people defied nighttime curfews in the capital city Amman, Irbid in the country's north, and Karak in the south, among other places, according to Reuters.

Protesters in Jordan's third-largest city, Irbid, reportedly chanted "down with the government, we don't fear coronavirus", as they marched through the streets demanding an end to Covid-19 restrictions.

"I am here because of the catastrophe. We want to put on trial those responsible for this and then bring down the government," one protester in Salt was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Anger has grown in Jordan against the government amid the coronavirus crisis, which has ravaged its economy and caused unemployment to surge to a record 24 percent.

Protesters have demanded that the government loosen restrictions and end draconian laws enacted at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.

Sunday's protests followed similar demonstrations a day earlier when hundreds of people gathered outside a hospital in Salt where six Covid-19 patients died due to a shortage of oxygen supplies.

Amid public outcry over the deaths, the hospital's director and four other officials were detained over alleged mismanagement.

Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh also fired the health minister and said he bore full responsibility for the initial deaths of six coronavirus patients after oxygen supplies ran out.

He said that the failure of medical staff to act after oxygen ran out for two hours exposed gross negligence in the state health system.

The weekend's unrest came as Jordan's daily virus caseload surged in recent weeks, prompting authorities to reimpose curbs, including an all-day curfew on Fridays - the day of rest.

Jordan, which launched its Covid-19 vaccination drive in January, has recorded more than 460,000 coronavirus cases and over 5,200 deaths.


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