Jordan Hospital’s Oxygen Scarcity Tied to at Least 7 Deaths
At least seven people died in a hospital in Jordan on Saturday after running out of oxygen, according to Jordanian news reports. This led to an outcry in the kingdom, a visit from King Abdullah II to the hospital and the resignation of the country’s health minister as the director of the hospital.
Officials said all victims were being treated for the coronavirus and that they had died after an oxygen disruption that lasted about an hour at a government hospital in Salt, northwest of Amman, the capital.
Many countries around the world, including Mexico, Nigeria, and Egypt, are facing oxygen starvation, which has increased the death toll from viruses. In Mexico, oxygen prices have risen, black market sales of oxygen tanks have flourished, and criminal groups have stolen them from hospitals. In Egypt, a New York Times investigation found that at least three patients had died of lack of oxygen in a hospital that ran out of oxygen earlier this year.
Last month, more than 500,000 people infected with the coronavirus needed oxygen every day, according to the World Health Organization, which identified up to 20 low- and middle-income countries in dire need of oxygen, including Malawi. Nigeria and Afghanistan. However, there have also been fears that global oxygen supplies may not be able to meet the needs of all those in need, including not just Covid-19 patients but patients being treated for many other diseases.
In Jordan, Prime Minister So far Al-Khasawneh said on Saturday that the government was fully responsible for the deaths at the salt hospital and that he had ordered an investigation, according to Al-Mamlaka TV.
Dozens of demonstrators gathered outside the hospital to protest the lack of oxygen, including relatives of victims. According to news and photos, a video posted online showed the king in military clothing and speaking to a hospital officer as similarly dressed members of his entourage withheld a growing crowd.
Jordan, a country of 10 million people, has reported over 5,200 deaths from Covid-19, according to the Times. On Friday, it received an initial shipment of 144,000 doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.