Fire at COVID hospital in Romania kills 4 patients

Firefighters gather outside the Matei Bals infectious diseases hospital, where at least four people died after a fire broke out, in Bucharest, Romania, on January 29, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

A fire killed four patients at a COVID-19 hospital in the Romanian capital, Bucharest, early on Friday (January 29) and 102 others were evacuated, officials said, the second deadly hospital fire in the European Union state in under three months.

The fire, which has since been extinguished, broke out at around 03:00 GMT in one of the buildings of the Matei Bals hospital, one of the largest and most used COVID-19 hospitals in the country. Four rooms were affected and prosecutors were investigating the cause of the fire.

The hospital building where the blaze broke out was built in 1953 and had been completely renovated, its manager said.

The evacuated patients had medium to serious COVID-19 infections and most were using oxygen, the hospital's manager said. About 44 of them have been sent to other COVID-19 hospitals across Bucharest, and the remaining patients were re-located to other buildings at Matei Bals.

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.

Romania has one of the EU's least developed healthcare infrastructures and even before the pandemic, the country's health care system had been under pressure, dogged by corruption, inefficiencies and politicized management.

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.

(Source: Reuters)

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