Fire at Romanian Covid-19 hospital kills at least two people

A fire at a COVID-19 hospital in Romania killed at least two people, according to local authorities, the latest in a string of deadly blazes at healthcare facilities in the country over the past year.

The fire in the central Romanian city of Ploiesti broke out at about 4am local time on Thursday.

It struck in a wing of the hospital where 21 patients were receiving care, reports said. The cause of the fire was not yet known.

“The fire was extinguished fast, but unfortunately two people died”, Health Minister Cseke Atilla told local media, adding that an investigation had been opened into the incident.

Officials identified the two victims as male patients in their 70s. A nurse who reportedly suffered serious burns was transferred to a hospital in the capital Bucharest. Other patients were evacuated.

Interim Prime Minister Florin Citu sent his condolences to the families of the victims and said “such tragedies must not be repeated” as he warned Romania’s healthcare system was being strained by a fourth wave of coronavirus infections.

“I always asked that the hospitals be prepared for wave four,” Citu told reporters. “We are facing an overload of the medical system due to wave four, and everyone involved must ensure that all measures are taken for the safety of patients.”

Romania has experienced three other deadly hospital fires in the past 12 months.

In October, a fire killed seven people in the intensive care unit of a hospital in the eastern city of Constanta.

That came after a separate blaze in January killed five patients at a COVID-19 hospital in Bucharest and an incident last November that saw 10 people die in a fire at an intensive care unit at the northeastern Piatra Neamt county hospital.