Prosecutor General Hamada El-Sawi ordered, on Monday, an investigation into the death of seven coronavirus (COVID-19) patients in a fire at a private hospital in Alexandria.
The fire erupted at the intensive care unit (ICU) in the Montaza area’s Badrawy Hospital, which was designated as an isolation unit for treating coronavirus patients. Six male and one female patient died in the incident, while another woman was injured.
In a statement, El-Sawi said that the public prosecution has questioned an ICU doctor, who said the fire erupted in an air conditioning device. The doctor added that his attempts to put out the fire failed, with flames escalating until the arrival of fire trucks.
As fire trucks reached the hospital to control the fire, several ambulances were on hand to transfer patients to other hospitals.
The Alexandria prosecution has summoned the hospital’s director and administrators for questioning over the incident.
Initial examinations suggest the fire was caused by a short circuit in an air conditioning unit in the hospital’s isolation section. The prosecution will delegate experts from the general department of criminal evidence to the scene of the incident to investigate the fire’s causes.
Meanwhile, El-Sawi ordered for the victims’ bodies to be transferred to the Al Maamourah Chest Hospital, for autopsies to be carried out.
El-Sawi also ordered for a committee at the Alexandria Health Directorate to be formed to look into the hospital’s paperwork and whether it held the necessary licence to offer coronavirus treatment and establish an isolation section. The hospital’s industrial security licences and its implementation of safety measures will also be looked into.
In May, a fire erupted among trees outside the Imbaba Fever Hospital in Cairo, although no casualties were reported.
Many private hospitals have been providing isolation areas, intensive care units (ICU) and other treatment for coronavirus cases.
To control the varying prices of coronavirus treatment at private hospitals, the Ministry of Health in May set fixed prices for treatment ranging from EGP 1,500 to EGP 10,000 per day.
A Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) report noted that, in 2018, Egypt had a total of 1,848 hospitals in 2018, of which 1,157, or 62.6%, were private facilities. The November 2019 CAPMAS report also said that public sector hospitals accounted for 37.4% of Egypt’s total number of healthcare facilities.