Protests erupt in Jordan after hospital deaths scandal

Protests erupt across Jordan in many cities and provincial towns against the government’s coronavirus restrictions. A day after oxygen ran out at a state hospital leading to the deaths of at least six COVID-19 patients on Sunday.

“Down with the government. We don’t fear coronavirus,” hundreds of protestors were chanting.

Hundreds of people took to the streets in defiance of the curfew in the northern city of Irbid and several other provincial cities including a neighbourhood in the capital and the city of Salt. Protesters also gathered further south in Karak city and the port city of Aqaba.
Demonstrators who blamed the government for worsening economic conditions also called for an end to draconian emergency laws enacted at the start of the pandemic last year used to limit civil and political rights.

Hospital deaths scandal

Prime Minister Bisher al Khasawneh fired the health minister and said he bore full responsibility for the initial deaths of six coronavirus patients that exposed gross negligence in the state health system when medical staff failed to act after oxygen ran out for two hours.
“I am here because of the catastrophe. We want to put on trial those responsible for this and then bring down the government,” said Ahmad Hiyari, a demonstrator near Salt hospital among hundreds of angry residents.

Unrest in Jordan

King Abdullah visited the hospital in Salt, a city west of the Jordanian capital of Amman, in a move officials said was intended to defuse tensions. Anger with the authorities over worsening living standards, corruption has in the past triggered civil unrest in Jordan.
Jordan’s economy has been particularly hard hit by the shutdowns aimed at containing the virus with unemployment surging to a record 24 %. It witnessed its worst contraction in decades last year.

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