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Monday, 06 July 2020

Egypt's health ministry investigates death of coronavirus-infected doctor, cites 'administrative deficiency'

Ahmed Morsy , Wednesday 27 May 2020
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Dr. Walid Yehia Abdel-Halim passed away on Sunday, 24 May (Photo: Facebook)
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Initial investigation into the death of Dr Walid Yehia Abdel-Halim after he had contracted the coronavirus revealed that "some aspects of administrative deficiency" have occurred in dealing with the infected doctor at the hospital, the health ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
 
In light of the inaccurate information circulated on some media outlets and social media platforms regarding the death of Abdel-Halim, a doctor at El-Munira General Hospital, a fact-finding committee was formed to determine the causes of his death following the Minister of Health Hala Zayed's directives to open an urgent and immediate investigation, the statement added.
 
The committee's initial investigation unveiled that on 18 May Abdel-Alim exhibited symptoms of fever. A swipe coronavirus test was carried out on the same day, the statement said. 
 
On 19 May the result came back positive for coronavirus and the doctor was given the necessary treatment in line with the treatment protocol.
 
"As a result of a chest pain and shortness of breath, the doctor came to El-Munira Hospital on 22 May and stayed for one day before being transferred on Saturday morning, 23 May, to Nasr City Insurance Hospital [one of the isolation hospitals]," the ministry said, adding that he was given the necessary medications according to the ministry's treatment protocols.
 
Nevertheless, a cardiomyopathy occurred and Abdel-Halim did not respond to the cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) attempts, leading to his death on Sunday, 24 May.
 
"The committee found through its initial investigations some administrative shortcomings in dealing with the case at the hospital," the ministry said without specifying which hospital.
 
The committee said "it is currently working on determining those responsible for these shortcomings" and the accountability of each of them in preparation for taking the necessary administrative measures towards them.
 
The ministry will announce these measures as soon as the committee concludes its investigations, the statement noted.
 
The death of Abdel-Halim sparked uproar among doctors across social media platforms as the medical staff "is not receiving the adequate care." There have been repeated calls for the ministry to allocate special hospitals for infected healthcare workers amid a surge in cases and reports of delayed tests or lack of beds at isolation hospitals.
 
In a statement on Monday, the Egyptian medical syndicate held the ministry "fully responsible" for the rise in coronavirus infections and deaths among medical staff which it said is the result of the ministry’s “inaction and negligence to protect them.”
 
According to the syndicate's figures issued on Monday, over 350 doctors have contracted the virus and 19 died. The ministry, however, mentioned a lower number on the same day saying that the pandemic has infected 291 health workers, including 69 physicians, and killed 11 among medical staff.
 
"The surge in cases is the result of the ministry’s refusal to conduct early tests to detect infections among hospital staff or for workers who came in contact with positive cases, and its failure to swiftly offer places for treating infected workers, the syndicate said.
 
The syndicate called on all doctors to insist on their right to ensure that all protective measures are implemented before they start their work, including access to personal protective gear, receiving the necessary training to deal with coronavirus cases in triage or isolation hospitals, undergoing tests if they show symptoms or have come into contact with positive cases without taking the necessary protective measures, and access to necessary supplies and medicines.
 
The syndicate reiterated its demand for designating special isolation hospitals for medics infected with the highly contagious virus.
 
In response, Zayed said in a statement on Monday that health authorities were “working hard to protect medical staff facing the coronavirus” and have 1amadopted all necessary precautions to do so, noting that all staff members undergo tests before entering and leaving hospitals.
 
"An immediate test is conducted for anyone showing symptoms while on duty. The ministry has intensified the [coronavirus] periodical tests carried out for medical staff, with 9,578 rapid tests and 8,913 PCR tests conducted so far," she said.
 
The statement said the ministry has designated a special 20-bed floor for infected staff in every quarantine hospital since the virus emerged in the country in February.
 
Egypt has until Tuesday recorded 797 coronavirus fatalities and 18,756 positive cases.
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