Jordan’s health minister sacked over oxygen outage accident

The death of seven people following an oxygen outage in a hospital treating coronavirus patients, has resulted in the sack of Jordan’s health minister on Saturday and the police were deployed to hold back hundreds of angry relatives, state media and witnesses said.

The intensive care, maternity and coronavirus wards in the new Salt government hospital west of the capital Amman, were seriously hit by the oxygen failure on Saturday.

Bisher al Khaswaneh, the Prime Minister said he had fired Health Minister Nathir Obeidat. In a public apology, he said his government bore full responsibility for the incident.

“This is a gross mistake that cannot be justified or accepted. I feel ashamed of it and won’t justify it,” Khaswaneh said, adding that he was awaiting the results of a judicial investigation.

Obeidat said he bore “moral responsibility” for the deaths of the patients, who were being treated for Covid-19 when wards ran out of oxygen for nearly an hour.

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King Abdullah visited the hospital, in a move that officials said was intended to defuse tensions. Anger with the authorities has in the past triggered civil unrest in Jordan.

“How can a hospital like this see something like this happening?” he said on entering the multi-million-dollar hospital, which went into operation only last August.

According to some politicians, the incident pointed to major mismanagement in government hospitals.

At the moment Jordan is facing a spike in Covid-19 infections attributed mainly to the fast transmission of the coronavirus variant first identified in Britain, and announced stricter measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 last week.

Jordan reported 8,300 new cases of Covid-19 on Thursday, the highest daily death toll since the pandemic first surfaced in the kingdom a year ago.

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The country, with a population of around 10 million, has recorded 385,533 cases of Covid-19 and 5,224 deaths.

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