5 detained over Covid-19 hospital deaths in Jordan

Police officers stand outside the new Salt government hospital in the city of Salt, Jordan, on March 13, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

AMMAN (AFP) - The director and four other officials of a Jordanian hospital treating coronavirus patients were detained on Sunday (March 14) over deaths at the facility after it ran out of oxygen, judicial sources said.

A prosecutor decided to place them in custody for a week for questioning after seven patients died Saturday in the hospital in Salt, near Amman, they said.

Public anger over the deaths led to the resignation of health minister Nazir Obeidat, and King Abdullah II, who visited the state hospital on Saturday, ordered its director Abdel Razak al-Khashman to also step down.

The head of health services for the province where Salt is located has likewise been suspended pending the completion of an investigation.

In video footage posted online, a visibly angry King Abdullah, shaking his head, is heard telling the hospital director: "How could such a thing happen. This is unacceptable."

Hundreds of people rallied outside during the visit to vent their disgust.

The two houses of Jordan's Parliament were to hold emergency sessions on Sunday on the Salt hospital deaths.

They came as the daily virus caseload in Jordan surged in recent weeks, prompting the 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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