Jordan health minister resigns after oxygen outage kills six patients

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AMMAN (Reuters) – Jordan’s health minister resigned on Saturday after six people died following an oxygen outage in a hospital treating coronavirus patients and police were deployed to hold back angry relatives, state media said.

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

A government spokesman said Prime Minister Bisher al Khasawneh asked Health Minister Nathir Obeidat to resign over the accident for which Obeidat had earlier said he carried “moral responsibility”.

Relatives of patients who died because of the Oxygen mishap and bystanders protest outside of AL-Salt new government hospital in the city of Al-Salt, northwest of the capital Amman, Jordan, 13 March 2021. King Abdullah II ordered the head of the state hospital in Salt to resign, state media reported, as hundreds of people gathered outside the hospital to protest the deaths of 8 patients after the hospital ran out of oxygen, Jordan’s health minister also resigned following the incident. EPA-EFE/MOHAMMAD ALI

Obeidat said initial investigations showed the six deaths were caused by a one hour disruption in oxygen to the wards and that prosecutors were handling the case.

Jordan’s King Abdullah also later visited the hospital.

Jordan is facing a spike in COVID-19 infections attributed mainly to the fast transmission of the British variant of the virus. It announced last week stricter measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 and reimposed a full lockdown on Fridays.

The country 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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