2021-10-01 20:17:43 Fire Kills 7 in Romanian Hospital’s Covid Ward

Fire Kills 7 in Romanian Hospital’s Covid Ward

On Friday, a fire ripped through the intensive care unit of a Romanian hospital where Covid patients were being treated, killing at least seven people and igniting public outrage about the country’s health-care infrastructure.

It was the third deadly hospital fire in the country in less than a year, with at least two dozen people killed. An inspection in February at the hospital where the latest fire occurred in the Black Sea port city of Constanta discovered “malfunctions,” according to one official.

The cause of the fire was being investigated, and officials stated that oxygen supplies had been turned off, raising the possibility that the tanks were involved in the blaze. Oxygen tanks used to treat patients with severe Covid-19 have been blamed for deadly fires at other coronavirus clinics around the world, most recently in North Macedonia, killing 14 people.

President Klaus Iohannis described the fire on Friday as “a terrible new drama that confirms the deficient infrastructure of the Romanian health system,” which he described as “an outdated system, long strained and put under unimaginable pressure by the fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

In a statement, he said, “I am horrified by the tragedy that occurred this morning.”

Cristian Amarandei, the head of the local branch of Romania’s emergency services, told a news conference outside the hospital that “irregularities, malfunctions were found” in the February inspection and that “sanctions were applied.”

He claimed that the hospital’s administrator had promised to fix the problems by the end of the year. “We haven’t checked in a while,” he added.

The hospital’s manager, Stela Halichidis, stated in a statement that “all the defects were fixed” and that “everything worked according to the law.”

The coronavirus is still spreading in Romania, which has the European Union’s second-lowest vaccination rate. On Thursday, more than 12,000 new cases were reported, setting a new high. According to the health ministry, over 12,000 Covid patients are now in the country’s hospitals, with over 1,300 in intensive care units.

Even before a new wave of infection caused by the Delta variant this spring, there was concern that Romania’s health-care system would buckle under the strain. Thousands of doctors and nurses have left the country, only one new hospital has been built since the fall of Communism in 1989, and Romania’s health-care spending is among the lowest in the European Union.

After several people were killed in a fire at Bucharest’s Matei Bals hospital in January, President Iohannis called for “profound” reform and stated that such tragedies “must not happen again.”

Criminal investigations into the two previous fires have yet to reveal the cause of the blazes or hold anyone accountable.

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Fire Kills 7 in Romanian Hospital's Covid Ward