A fire in the main hospital in Bucharest, where COVID-19 patients are hospitalized, caused five deaths on Friday, less than three months after a similar incident in a center in Piatra-Neamt (northeast), in which 10 patients died.
“Three patients were found dead” by firefighters upon entering the Matei Bals hospital, and a fourth died later, declared the Secretary of State of the Interior Ministry, Raed Arafat, who specified that they are patients with covid-19.
A fifth fatality was later found in the hospital bathrooms, Interior Minister Lucian added.
“About 120 patients who were in the same ward were evacuated,” a spokesman for the Romanian institution for emergency situations (ISU), Bogdan Toma, told AFP.
The causes of the fire, which broke out at 0500 (0300 GMT) were not yet known, he said.
On November 14, ten patients with Covid-19 died in a fire that had broken out in the intensive care service of the Piatra-Neamt departmental hospital.
After the fire on Friday, when the hospital was still smoking, the relatives of the sick gathered at the entrance of the health center, demanding answers.
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis also went to the hospital.
“It is a tragedy (…) We have structural problems in Romanian hospitals, so I have asked the Minister of Health for a reform plan”, he told reporters.
Romania, one of the poorest countries in Europe, suffers from poor infrastructure.
The tragedy of last November has already led to the opening of an official investigation that has yet to be concluded.
Previously, the country suffered another fire, in a nightclub in the capital, in October 2015, which left 64 dead.
“The reality is that most of our hospitals suffer from a chronic lack of financing, non-transparent purchases and a long chain of improvisations”, said the Minister of Health, Vlad Voiculescu, through Facebook.
“We cannot continue like this. 6% of GDP went to the health system last year, but only a small part went to investments ”, acknowledged Prime Minister Florin Citu.
The Matei Bals hospital is the main health center against infectious diseases in Romania, and was also the scene of the start of the vaccination campaign against covid-19, in December.