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Fire in Egypt coronavirus ward kills seven patients Open in fullscreen

The New Arab Staff

Fire in Egypt coronavirus ward kills seven patients

Nurses who rushed to the scene found patients overcome by clouds of smoke [Twitter]

Date of publication: 30 June, 2020

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The latest incident follows a similar fire which swept through a coronavirus isolation ward in the capital, Cairo, last month.

At least seven Covid-19 patients died in a fire which broke out in the isolation ward of a private hospital in the coastal Egyptian city of Alexandria on Monday, according to the country's public prosecutor.

Preliminary reports suggest that an electric short-circuit sparked the blaze, which began after an air-conditioner unit exploded.

Nurses rushed to the scene and found patients in the intensive care unit overcome by clouds of smoke. Six men and one woman died, according to Governor Mohamed El-Sharif

"The fire was huge, and none of the workers could have contained the situation because of its swift spread" the Badrawy Hospital said in a statement, posted on social media.

One patient was injured in the fire and the rest were evacuated to another medical facility in the city, it was reported.

Firefighters doused the charred remains of ventilators, beds, and other medical supplies in the ward so that the blaze would not spread to other parts of the hospital.

The latest incident follows a similar fire which swept through a coronavirus isolation centre in the capital, Cairo, last month causing no casualties.

Egyptian authorities are lax in their enforcement of safety standards and fire regulations, with weak adherence to existing rules a culprit in many deaths.

The accidents also reflect Egypt’s struggle to fight the virus. The country's 17 hospitals for Covid-19 patients reportedly reached their maximum capacity in early May.

Despite a surge in new infections, Cairo lifted a host of restrictions on Saturday, reopening cafes, clubs, gyms, and theatres, as well as ending a night time curfew.

Egypt's health ministry has reported 62,755 infections, including 2620 deaths.

However, the actual numbers of infections and deaths are thought to be far higher due to several reasons, including limited testing.

While Egypt's doctors' union last month warned of imcoming catastrophe, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi's government has long pushed for reopening the country in a bid to save the country's ravaged economy.

On Friday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved another $5.2 billion loan for Egypt, to be added to the $2.8 billion the fund had already pledged to stave of the pandemic's worst effects.

Agencies contributed to this report.


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