Tue | Nov 30, 2021

Jordan Health minister steps down after deaths in virus ward

Published:Sunday | March 14, 2021 | 12:37 AM


Jordan’s health minister stepped down Saturday after at least seven patients in a hospital COVID-19 ward died due to a shortage of oxygen supplies, state media reported.

Hours later, King Abdullah II arrived at the Salt government hospital to help calm angry families who had gathered outside.

Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh ordered an investigation into the deaths early Saturday morning at the hospital in the town of Salt, 20 kilometres north of the capital Amman.

King Abdullah has ordered the hospital’s director also suspended, according to Al-Mamlaka TV, which added that all of the dead were coronavirus patients.

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

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

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 defence workers and people from outside the hospital rushed in 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.”

The oxygen outage lasted for more than 40 minutes, according to the reports.

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 a weekend lockdown and night-time curfews, to curb the spread of the virus.

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