First Thing, Daily Maverick's flagship newsletter

Join the 230 000 South Africans who read First Thing newsletter.

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.7% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.3% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.3% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

We need so many more of our readers to join them. The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country. We are inundated with tip-offs; we know where to look and what to do with the information when we have it – we just need the means to help us keep doing this work.

Be part of that 0.3%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Fire at Romanian Covid-19 hospital kills seven people

Newsdeck

Newsdeck

Fire at Romanian Covid-19 hospital kills seven people

Locals sit in a tent to be monitored after receiving their first dose of the Covid-19 Moderna vaccine near Bucharest, Romania, on 21 April 2020. (Photo: EPA-EFE / ROBERT GHEMENT)
By Reuters
01 Oct 2021 1

BUCHAREST, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Seven people died on Friday when a fire broke out in a Romanian intensive care unit treating Covid-19 patients, officials said, the country's third deadly hospital fire in less than a year.

Video footage showed patients jumping out of windows from the hospital’s lower levels and firefighters carrying people out.

The country’s emergency response unit had initially said nine people had died, but Transport Minister Lucian Bode later said there had been a miscommunication between firefighters and hospital staff.

Firefighters extinguished the fire at the hospital in the eastern city of Constanta at around 0755 GMT, having brought in additional teams from nearby counties.

Enraged relatives of the patients gathered outside the hospital in protest and prosecutors have opened an investigation into the causes of the fire.

In February, a fire killed four patients at a COVID-19 hospital in the capital Bucharest. Last November 10 people died in an intensive care unit at the Piatra Neamt county hospital.

“I am appalled at the tragedy,” President Klaus Iohannis said in a statement. “It is a new terrible drama which confirms the lacking infrastructure of Romania’s healthcare system, placed under unimaginable pressure by the fourth wave of the pandemic.”

There were more than 12,500 COVID-19 patients, including 373 children, being treated in Romanian hospitals on Friday, including 1,391 in intensive care units.

The number of new COVID-19 infections in Romania reached 10,887 on Friday, and intensive care units across the country were running out of space. Romania has the second-lowest vaccination rate in the 27-nation European Union.

Even before the pandemic, Romania’s health care system had been under pressure, dogged by corruption, inefficiencies and politicised management. 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 EU and tens of thousands of doctors and nurses have emigrated. (Reporting by Luiza Ilie Editing by Gareth Jones and Toby Chopra)

Gallery

Comments - share your knowledge and experience

Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or sign in if you are already an Insider.

Everybody has an opinion but not everyone has the knowledge and the experience to contribute meaningfully to a discussion. That’s what we want from our members. Help us learn with your expertise and insights on articles that we publish. We encourage different, respectful viewpoints to further our understanding of the world. View our comments policy here.

All Comments 1

  • While recognising its faults, we should perhaps beware of simply blaming a particular governmental system for tragedies of this nature. Worldwide, the Covid-19 contagion placed medical facilties under sudden, tremendous and unusual pressure to accommodate thousands of patients. This necessitated the erection of temporary medical facilities (including tents) while re-engineering others. My concern lies in the nature of these temporary hospitals and alterations; the designs, the materials used and the installed services. Imagine, if you wish, combustible construction materials in their most exposed form, both for ignition and for fire propagation, not to mention the toxic by-products of combustion. Imagine the rate of burning when a fire occurs in oxygen-rich atmospheres, including when oxygen and other piped gas lines fail or collapse. Imagine exhausted medical staff choosing, then physically having to evacuate bed-ridden patients from isolation facilities through narrow corridors and exits and into inadequate (and safe) landing areas. Design also speaks to fire compartmentation and fire ventilation, to lighting, escape routes, to fire exits and to specific fire fighting equipment. It also speaks to evacuation planning, methods and equipment. There are too many other matters that must also be considered. I’m not entirely confident that (temporary and re-engineered) medical facilities across the world would fully meet the litmus test in the event of a fire.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted