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Jordan jails hospital director over deaths of Covid-19 patients

Abdel Razak al-Khasman and four aides were blamed for the deaths of 10 patients in March after oxygen ran out to treat them
Jordanian security forces keep demonstrators away from al-Hussain New Salt Hospital, Salt, on 13 March 2021 (AFP)

Jordan on Sunday sentenced the director of a hospital to three years in prison after 10 coronavirus patients in his medical facility died earlier this year when the oxygen that was being used to treat them ran out.

Abdel Razak al-Khasman and four aides were convicted of "causing the deaths" at the al-Hussain New Salt Hospital.

The deaths in March sparked anger and protests that led to the resignation of the Jordanian Health Minister Nazir Obeidat shortly after the incident. 

King Abdullah visited the hospital at the time amid calls for the government to step down following the deaths. 

Hundreds protested

Images and videos posted online showed hundreds of Jordanians protesting outside the Salt state hospital after the patients died. 

Following the deaths, Prime Minister Bishr al-Khasawneh ordered an immediate investigation into the oxygen failure in the hospital and stressed that the investigation should be "clear, transparent and comprehensive" and that all its details would be publicly announced.

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Khasawneh asked the president of the Judicial Council to conduct an investigation through the public prosecution office and to issue the results of its investigations independently to ensure their integrity and fairness, according to local media.

"Everyone responsible should be held accountable," he said.

Alternative supplies

At the time, local media quoted Khashman saying that the depletion of oxygen was caused by the high consumption of oxygen in the hospital. 

He added that there are usually alternative plans when this happens, including supplying the departments with oxygen cylinders from the hospital's oxygen centre.

Oxygen cylinders were provided to all 180 Covid-19 patients in the hospital, Khashman said, in addition to tanks to save the patients.

Last month, Jordan announced bans on travellers from several African nations after reports of a new Covid-19 variant, Omicron, first detected in southern Africa.