A day after seven people died due to lack of oxygen at al-Hussain hospital in Jordan, protests against restrictive measures adopted by the government in driving the pandemic erupted across the country on Sunday (14).
In addition to the Covid-19 wing, the collapse in the oxygen supply has hit the intensive care unit and maternity unit of a public hospital in the city of Salt, west of the country’s capital , Amman.
The case led to the resignation of the Minister of Health and the arrest of the director of the hospital. After the minister resigned, Prime Minister Bisher al Khasawneh took responsibility for his mistake for the government and said he was ashamed of what had happened. Outside the hospital, the police must have restrained hundreds of angry relatives.
Outrage over the episode, coupled with anger over the imposition of a nighttime curfew, drove hundreds to the streets of the towns of Irbid, Salt, Aqaba and Caraque.
“Down with the government. We are not afraid of the coronavirus,” shouted protesters in Irbid, in the northwestern region of the country.
Jordan has a population of around 10 million and has recorded 477,053 cases of Covid and 5,346 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The curfew was decreed as a measure to prevent the transmission of a new, more contagious variant of the virus detected in the country.
Dissatisfaction with the restrictive measures is also linked to the economic crisis in Jordan. With the disruption of business activities, the country hit a record unemployment rate of 24% and saw poverty worsen amid the worst economic recession in a decade.
Protesters believe the government is responsible for the deterioration of the country’s economy and, moreover, call for an end to laws enacted at the start of the pandemic in 2020, which limit the civil and political rights of the population.
In Salt, hundreds of residents demonstrated near the al-Hussain hospital. Among them, Ahmad Hiyari, who decided to attend the demonstration due to the oxygen supply disaster. “We want those responsible to be brought to justice and then we want to overthrow the government,” he said.