Jordan's Al Salt hospital death toll increases to nine

The depletion of oxygen supplies that resulted in the deaths lasted for two hours

The number of people who died from a lack of oxygen supplies at a Jordanian hospital has risen to nine, as outrage in the country grows.

Authorities have arrested five people after the incident in which the new Al Salt government hospital ran out of oxygen  from 7.30am to 9.30am on Saturday morning.

The director of the hospital, Abdel Razak Al Khashman, and four other officials were detained, according to local reports.

A prosecutor placed them in custody for a week for questioning.

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

Health minister Nazir Obeidat stood down in the wake of the disaster and Interior Minister Mazen Al Faraya has temporarily replaced him.

MPs on the Parliamentary Health Committee said that negligence and corruption directly caused the tragedy.

In video footage posted online during his visit to the hospital on Saturday, a visibly angry King Abdullah 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 anger and disgust.

What happened in Al Salt hospital?

Mr Al Faraya told an emergency session of Jordan's House of Representatives that "at exactly 7.12am Saturday morning, a report was received by the [Directorate of] General Security regarding the problem of lack of oxygen in the isolation rooms and intensive care units of Salt Hospital.

"Out of the nine deaths from the coronavirus in Al Hussain Hospital in Al Salt yesterday, six of them died while running out of oxygen," according to the minister.

"No action was taken after the level of oxygen reached a dangerous level in the hospital.

"The armed forces have started establishing an oxygen production plant that will be ready within three weeks," Mr Al Faraya said.

He said civil defence personnel have been installed in hospitals to monitor oxygen levels, and will also perform checks on oxygen providing companies.

The daily virus caseload in Jordan has surged in recent weeks, prompting authorities to re-impose 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 more than 5,200 deaths.

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