Jordan’s health minister has stepped down after at least six patients in a hospital COVID-19 patient ward died due to a shortage of oxygen supplies, state media reports.

Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh ordered an investigation into the deaths early on Saturday at a government hospital in the town of Salt, north of the capital Amman.

He asked Health Minister Nathir Obeidat to resign, according to the reports. The Al-Rai newspaper, a government mouthpiece, confirmed that Obeidat had resigned.

Jordan, home to 10 million people, is grappling with surging coronavirus infections and deaths and struggling to secure vaccines.

About 150 relatives of the patients gathered outside the hospital, which was surrounded by a large deployment of police and security officers, who prevented the families from entering.

One of those waiting anxiously outside was Fares Kharabsha, whose parents are COVID-19 patients. He was inside when the oxygen ran out in the ward and said medical and civil defence workers and people from outside the hospital rushed with portable oxygen devices to try to prevent more deaths.

“They resuscitated a large number of people, including my father and mother,” he said.

“I do not know how many, but I saw people who died.”

The Middle Eastern kingdom has reported over 465,000 cases and more than 5200 deaths during the pandemic.

Last month, it tightened restrictions, restoring weekend lockdown and night curfews to curb the spread of the virus.

Jordan launched its vaccination drive in mid-January with plans to inoculate over four million residents in 2021.

On Friday, the country received 144,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine delivered through the global COVAX initiative.

The COVAX alliance aims to share COVID-19 vaccines with more than 90 lower- and middle-income nations. However, the program is facing delays, underfunding and limited supplies.