UPDATE. Five patients die in Covid-19 hospital in Romanian capital, 100 evacuated

Inquam Photos / Octav Ganea

 A fire killed five patients at a Covid-19 hospital in the Romanian capital early Friday and 100 people were evacuated, officials said, the second deadly hospital fire in Romania in less than three months.

The fire, which has been extinguished, broke out on the ground floor at around 5am at the Matei Bals hospital. Four rooms were damaged by the blaze.

Officials initially said four patients had died in the fire, but added a fifth after a carbonized body was found in a bathroom, Interior Minister Lucian Bode said.

Prosecutors are investigating the cause of the fire and will investigate possible manslaughter as the cause, they said.

The hospital building where the fire started was built in 1953 and had been completely renovated, former manager Adrian Streinu-Cercel said. It was one of the best-funded public hospital in Romania.

Early reports said a short circuit may have caused the fire. The hospital had problems with its central heating system, and patients may have used space heaters which use a lot of electricity.

One woman told Realitatea TV that she had brought an electrical heater for her mother who was hospitalized there, with the knowledge of medical staff, because it was cold.

Matei Bals Hospital for Infectious Diseases is one of largest hospitals used to treat Covid-19 patients in the country.

Patients who were evacuated patients were suffering from medium to serious symptoms of the virus, reports said.

More than 40 have been transferred to other hospitals in the capital. Other patients were moved to other buildings at the hospital.

Prime Minister Florin Citu sent his condolences and President Klaus Iohannis was scheduled to visit the hospital later Friday.

“None of the (evacuated) patients have burns, from the information we currently have,” said Raed Arafat, who heads the Emergency Situations Department.

Health Minister Vlad Voiculescu said the hospital was among the best funded in Romania and had treated a lot of Covid-19 patients.

In November, a fire at the intensive care unit of the Piatra Neamt county hospital killed ten people.

Romania has reported more than 700,000 cases and 18,000 deaths.

Romania’s chronically underfunded health system has been plagued by corruption, and inefficient and bad management. The East European nation spends the least on healthcare in the EU in terms of the percentage of its gross domestic product.


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