A hospital in Egypt is under investigation following a video of its nurses struggling to keep patients alive going viral. The video showed clearly distressed nurses scrambling at a medical facility in the northern Egyptian province of Sharqia. According to Ahmed Mamdouh who was filming the footage, “everyone in the ICU has died [because] there’s no oxygen.” However, Sharqia’s provincial governor denied that this was the case.
The Sharqia prosecutor’s office told the Associated Press it was looking at the deaths at the Al-Husseiniya Central Hospital, where the footage was filmed. An anonymous official seconded this remark, saying that the hospital director and some doctors were being questioned regarding the matter.
Sharqia Gov. Mamdouh Ghorab denied the hospital lacked oxygen for the four fatalities – two women in their 60s, a 76-year-old man and a 44-year-old man. He added that the patients already had chronic diseases prior to contracting the Wuhan coronavirus and were hooked to ventilators.
However, Member of Parliament for Sharqia Sayed Rahmo refuted Ghorab’s explanation. He said that the four died “as a result of negligence at the Al-Husseiniya hospital and the mismanagement of the oxygen shortage crisis.” Rahmo explained: “According to my sources, the intensive care doctor informed the hospital director about the shortage of oxygen supply.” However, the warning was not heeded in time – leading to a chaotic scenario.
Meanwhile, the Middle East Eye reported that police had summoned Mamdouh for questioning. According to the news outlet, Mamdouh was questioned as he did not include any evidence that Al-Husseiniya had no oxygen in his video.
The allegations at Al-Husseiniya follow similar claims a week before from another family in Menoufiya province, located west of Sharqia. AP reported that two people died at a government-run hospital there, according to a relative that a relative of a Menoufiya COVID-19 patient. Lack of oxygen was cited as the reason for the two fatalities in the province. Prosecutors have launched an investigation into the fatalities on Jan. 1.
In response to both allegations, Egyptian Health Minister Hala Zayed said on Jan. 3 that there were “sufficient medical oxygen supplies at all hospitals receiving coronavirus patients.”
The scene at Al-Husseiniya occurred amid a spike of coronavirus infections in Egypt
Even before the video of nurses at Al-Husseiniya hospital went viral, it has been the center of several complaints regarding negligence and unsanitary conditions.
Issues with oxygen supplies are among the many problems hospitals in Egypt such as Al-Husseiniya encounter, independent advocacy and research platform Egypt Watch said. It continued that the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic and the health ministry’s lack of preparedness only worsened the problem.
Based on Johns Hopkins University data, Egypt has a 144,583 COVID-19 caseload with 115,414 recoveries and 7,918 deaths. The most populous country in the Middle East has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.
Egypt’s Ministry of Health and Population recorded more than 1,400 new cases and 54 fatalities on Jan. 2, one of the highest official daily tallies since the onset of the pandemic. This surge in confirmed cases has renewed calls for the government to lock down the country and curb a projected “second wave” of the pandemic. (Related: World’s largest medical complex in Texas is running out of ICU beds due to the coronavirus.)
Amid ongoing Wuhan coronavirus vaccinations worldwide, the health ministry announced that Egypt has approved a jab for domestic use. The vaccine candidate made by Chinese drugmaker Sinopharm received emergency use approval in the country, with mass vaccinations commencing in two weeks. During a Jan. 2 television appearance, Zayed said Egypt was also negotiating to procure vaccine doses from two sources – AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, and Pfizer and BioNTech.
Back in December 2020, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait told state-run newspaper Al-Ahram that the Egyptian government has contracted to purchase both vaccines. He said Egypt has committed to purchasing 20 million doses from AstraZeneca and 30 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab.
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