Jordan's health minister steps down after hospital deaths

Jordan's health minister steps down after hospital deaths over oxygen shortage
2 min read
Jordanian health minister Nathir Obeidat resigned after at least six patients died at a hospital near the capital Amman due to a shortage of oxygen supplies.
The oxygen failure hit intensive care, maternity and coronavirus wards in Salt government hospital [Getty]
Jordan’s Health Minister stepped down on Saturday after at least six patients died at a hospital near the capital Amman due to a shortage of oxygen supplies, Jordanian state media reported.

The oxygen failure hit intensive care, maternity, and coronavirus wards in the new Salt government hospital west of the capital Amman, a Reuters report said.

Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh ordered an investigation into the incident at the government hospital in the town of Salt, 20 kilometers (13 miles) north of Amman, and asked Health Minister Nathir Obeidat to resign, according to the reports.

The Al-Rai newspaper, a government mouthpiece, confirmed that Obeidat had resigned.

About 150 relatives of the patients gathered outside the hospital, which was surrounded by a large deployment of police and security officers, who prevented the families from entering.

One of those waiting anxiously outside was Fares Kharabsha, whose parents are Covid-19 patients.

He was inside when the oxygen ran out in the ward and said medical and civil defense workers and people from outside the hospital rushed with portable oxygen devices to try to prevent more deaths.

"They resuscitated a large number of people, including my father and mother," he said. "I do not know how many, but I saw people who died."

Another relative, Habis Kharabsha, complained of a lack of sufficient services at the hospital.

"At the isolation department, there was only one doctor and two nurses for 50 or 60 patients; this is mad," he said.

Jordan, home to 10 million people, is grappling with surging coronavirus infections and deaths and struggling to secure vaccines.

The Middle Eastern kingdom has reported over 465,000 cases and more than 5,200 deaths during the pandemic. Last month, it tightened restrictions, restoring weekend lockdown and nighttime curfews, to curb the spread of the virus.

Jordan launched its vaccination drive in mid-January with plans to inoculate over 4 million residents in 2021. On Friday, the country received 144,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine delivered through the global COVAX initiative.

The COVAX alliance aims to share Covid-19 vaccines with more than 90 lower- and middle-income nations. However, the program is facing delays, underfunding and limited supplies.

The EU has allocated 8 million euros to support Jordan’s purchase of vaccines. A second shipment from COVAX is expected in April.

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