General view at the site of a COVID-19 hospital, where a fire occurred, in Bucharest, Romania. Reuters
A fire killed five patients at a COVID-19 hospital in the Romanian capital Bucharest on Friday and 102 others were evacuated, officials said, the second deadly hospital fire in the country in under three months.
The fire, which has since been extinguished, broke out at around 0300 GMT in one of the buildings of the Matei Bals hospital.
Four rooms were affected.
Three victims died on the scene, a fourth during resuscitation, while a fifth was later found in a bathroom, officials said.
Prosecutors were investigating the cause of the fire.
The building where the blaze broke out was built in 1953 and had been completely renovated, its manager said.
Matei Bals is one of the largest and most used COVID-19 hospitals in Romania.
The evacuated patients had medium to serious COVID-19 infections and most were using oxygen, the hospital's manager said.
They were re-located to other COVID-19 hospitals across Bucharest or to other buildings at Matei Bals.
Nearly 7,700 COVID-19 patients were in hospitals across Romania as of Friday, including 989 in intensive care units.
The country has reported 721,513 coronavirus cases and 18,105 deaths.
"Before we talk about the overall healthcare system we must first learn what happened here tonight," Health Minister Vlad Voiculescu said.
"The reality is that the state of an overwhelming majority of our hospitals is simply the result of chronic underfunding and opaque acquisitions which led to a long string of improvisations."
Even before the pandemic, Romania's health care system had been under pressure, dogged by corruption and inefficiencies. The country has one of the EU's least developed healthcare infrastructures.
The state has built one hospital in the last three decades, spends the least on healthcare in the European Union and tens of thousands of doctors and nurses have emigrated. In November, a fire at the intensive care unit of the Piatra Neamt county hospital killed ten people, one in a series of hospital accidents.
The fire broke out following an explosion in a Covid-19 clinic in Tetovo in the northwest of the Balkan country, said Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, who immediately headed to the town.
A fire killed at least seven people and injured several others on Saturday at a private hospital that was treating coronavirus patients on the outskirts of the Egyptian capital Cairo, local sources and media said.
Separately, eight COVID-19 patients, including a doctor, died Saturday at a hospital in the capital of New Delhi after it ran short of oxygen supplies, the Press Trust of India news agency reported. There was no confirmation by hospital officials.
Armenia's Prime Minister also said the Karabakh Armenians were likely to leave the region, and that Armenia was ready to take them in, following a defeat last week at the hands of Azerbaijan in a conflict dating to the fall of the Soviet Union.
Railway authorities suspended the driver of the Lahore-bound passenger train, his assistant and two of the ground staff for negligence as an investigation has been opened, said top railways official Shahid Aziz.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said two men — Asid Abu Ali, 21, and Abdulrahman Abu Daghash, 32 — were killed by Israeli fire. The raid caused heavy damage to the camp's main road, severing water pipes and flooding parts of the street.
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