Jordan investigates death at coronavirus hospital after power cut

Director of Gardens Hospital in Amman says short-circuit affected lights in ICU

The Jordanian government is investigating the death of a patient at a private hospital in Amman after a power cut on Sunday.

The incident occurred at the Gardens Hospital in west Amman, amid a surge of coronavirus infections in the kingdom of 10 million people. The hospital specialises in treating Covid-19 patients.

“The government asked the public prosecution to open an investigation in the power cut-off incident as there is a death,” government spokesman Sakhr Dudin said, according to the official news agency.

In March, anti-government protests broke out over the deaths of seven coronavirus patients at a state-owned hospital in the central city of Al Salt that ran out of oxygen. The government cracked down on the demonstrations and arrested hundreds of people.

The government rented Gardens Hospital from its private owners in November last year, during a surge in coronavirus infections.

Gardens Hospital director Fayez Abu Humeidan told official media that there was an electrical short-circuit at the hospital but only the lights were affected in the intensive care unit where the female patient died.

“It did not stop any medical machine from working," he said.

“One patient who was in bad condition died but her death did not have anything to do with the electricity cut-off. The machine she was on was operating."

Mr Humeidan said the patient’s husband was informed before the incident that her chances of survival were slim. He said an average of four coronavirus patients die at the 300-bed hospital every day.

The electrical short was repaired “in five minutes”, he said.

“The media storm sadly is exaggerated but what happened in Salt caused all this sensitivity,” he said.

Dozens of people briefly gathered at the entrance of the hospital on Sunday, worried about relatives inside.

The latest official data recorded 485 people new infections on Saturday, and 15 deaths.

This brings the official death toll to 9,948 and cases numbers to 764,000. Doctors say many more people in Jordan were infected and their cases not recorded.

Vaccination rates remain low, officials say, despite a government campaign that includes restrictions on state employees who are not inoculated.

Only 190,000 people have received two vaccine doses, the Health Ministry says.

Prime Minister Bisher Al Khasawneh said last week that "many" coronavirus infections are happening daily. He urged people to abide by social distancing and other virus rules.

"The belief that the coronavirus is over is wrong," Mr Al Khasawneh said, pointing to new strains of the virus. "Every precaution must be taken to prevent a setback on the domestic level."

Adherence to social distancing and mask wearing dropped sharply after the government lifted most virus restrictions in June, saying it wants to revive the economy.

Unemployment is at an official record of 24 per cent and the economy has been in recession since last year, after a decade of stagnation and rising poverty.

The Health Ministry said at the weekend that anyone who is 12 and older can receive coronavirus vaccines, opening vaccinations to children and people under 18 for the first time.

Those between 12 and 18 can be vaccinated with adult consent starting from Sunday, July 25, the ministry said.

Updated: July 25th 2021, 2:03 PM