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Court hears witness testimony in Salt hospital deaths case

By Rana Husseini - May 17,2021 - Last updated at May 17,2021

AMMAN — A top official at an oxygen supply company told the Amman Court of First Instance on Sunday that the New Salt Public Hospital requested to be supplied with oxygen on several occasions, including the day seven COVID patients died reportedly due to an oxygen outage.

The defendants, including the hospital director and other employees, are standing trial in the case on seven counts of causing death by association on March 13 around 7am and for violating articles 343 and 76 of the Penal Code.

The families of two patients who died at a later stage filed complaints against the defendants recently and the court’s presiding judge decided to add them to the ongoing case.

During the court hearing, the witness testified that the hospital requested to be supplied with oxygen on March 11, March 14 and on the day of the incident, which was March 13.

On the day of the incident, the hospital contacted the company at 7am to request an expedited shipment of oxygen, the witness told the court, adding that the requested shipment was delivered at 9am.

The defendants, who pleaded not guilty during their opening trial were tried via a TV feed as a precautionary health measure due to the pandemic.

Among the defendants standing trial were the secretary general of the Ministry of Health, assistant secretary general for Health and Technical Affairs, assistant secretary general for Services Affairs, and the director of the Biomedical Engineering Department.

Over 70 witnesses and experts are expected to testify on matters related to prior knowledge of the Prevention Department in the Civil Defence Department, the contents of the hospitals and staff cameras, duration of oxygen disruption, functionality of the gas system, the deteriorating health status of the patients affected, chest diseases, Building Management System (BMS), and government autopsies results.

The prosecution office has indicated in its investigation that all defendants failed to follow proper caution and consideration of laws and regulations, whether they were from the Ministry of Health or affiliated with the hospital administration.

This, according to the prosecution office, resulted in an oxygen outage at the ICU for around one hour, which ultimately resulted in several deaths and further health complications to the patients who were at the unit on March 13.

Government health officials confirmed that all the deceased in this incident were COVID-19 patients and all were above the age of 40.

The presiding judge adjourned the session until Thursday to hear from more prosecution witnesses in the case.

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