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An avoidable tragedy

Mar 13,2021 - Last updated at Mar 13,2021

The Kingdom is struggling to come to terms with the shock of a medical tragedy in which seven patients died in the intensive care units of the New Salt Hospital due to a disruption in oxygen supply on Saturday.

According to media reports, the hospital ran out of oxygen for nearly an hour, resulting in the seven deaths.

Alarmed by the tragic incident, His Majesty King Abdullah and HRH Crown Prince Hussein rushed to the hospital.

The King, visibly angry, expressed dismay over the tragic incident and ordered an investigation.

A Royal Decree has been issued, dismissing Health Minister Nathir Obeidat from his position as of March 13, 2021.

His Majesty has always been calling for the need to improve public health services offered to the citizens.

Since the onset of the pandemic crisis, the King has been relentlessly following up on measures carried out by the government agencies in the anti-virus fight, conducting field visits and chairing meetings reviewing developments in this front.

Needless to say, the entirely preventable tragedy comes at a time when the Kingdom is grappling with the surge in coronavirus cases, due to a new variant. The rise in infection rate has forced the government to reimpose restrictions, including extending the curfew hours during the weekdays and an all-day curfew on Fridays to curb the spread of the virus.

Prime Minister and Defence Minister Bisher Al Khasawneh has ordered an immediate investigation into the tragic incident, vowing that the probe will be “clear, transparent and comprehensive”.

The government is carrying out a two-tier investigation: An immediate, “transparent, comprehensive and clear” investigation, whose results will be made public, followed by a probe to be carried out by public prosecution offices and the independent judiciary as “a guarantee of fairness and impartiality”, according to Minister of State for Media Affairs and Government Spokesperson Sakher Dudin.

Jordan, heeding early warning signs, imposed some of the stringent anti-virus measures, and due to its timely response, with a dedicated army of healthcare workers in the frontline, has remained relatively unscathed in the fight against the pandemic.

A steadfast investigation into the tragic incident, bringing those behind the gross medical and administrative negligence to the book, and a course correction in the state-run health facilities coupled with the implementation of a strict monitoring system are highly warranted.

At this juncture of the battle against the invisible enemy, the nation cannot afford a public health system in ill health.

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