Salt hospital requested oxygen supply days prior to outage incident, says witness

The Salt Government Hospital had twice requested oxygen supply three days prior to the deadly outage which claimed the lives of seven people, according to a public prosecution witness.

In a public session on Sunday morning, the Amman Magistrates Court, chaired by Judge Odai Freihat, heard a new prosecution witness, who is the chairman of the oxygen supply company. The unnamed witness stated that the company supplied the hospital punctually, pointing out that the hospital is usually supplied with oxygen once a week, but during the few weeks leading up to the incident, the hospital’s consumption increased to twice a week. The company, he added, was allowed to deliver anytime during the partial and full lockdown.

The witness denied knowing any of the 13 defendants on trial for the oxygen outage when asked by the court, noting that his company supplies 31 public and private hospitals in the Kingdom.

He testified that the Salt hospital made two requests to deliver oxygen supply; the first on Wednesday March 10, scheduled for delivery on Thursday March 11, while the second request was made on Friday March 12, scheduled for delivery on Saturday March 13, the day the incident occurred. On that day, the hospital contacted the oxygen supply company to move up the time of delivery from 9 a.m. to 7 a.m..

He also attested that a number of the defendants, who are officials at the Ministry of Health, are only concerned with the financial claim for gas prices, but not the oxygen supply procedures.

He also stated that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company had a surplus of oxygen supply, but the pandemic caused an uptick in consumption. The hospitals that the company supplies require 100 tonnes of oxygen on a daily basis, while the company only produces 33 tonnes and imports the remaining amount (70 tonnes) from neighboring countries.

The alarm system on the oxygen tanks at the hospitals is not connected to the company itself, he pointed out, indicating that the system sends an early alarm when the tank reaches 30 percent of its total capacity, which is sufficient for two days.

The court also heard another witness in the case, raising the total number of prosecution witnesses to 24. Some 25 people will testify in the case over the next few months, and then the defense witnesses will be heard by the court.

The defense attorneys cross-examined the witnesses in the presence of some defendants whom the court had released earlier after the 30-day custody period ended.

In March, the Public Prosecution opened an investigation into the incident and ordered the arrest of a number of officials at the Ministry of Health.

Source: Jordan News Agency