Egypt’s health ministry denies lack of oxygen behind death of 6 coronavirus patients

Amr Kandil , Sunday 3 Jan 2021

The ministry affirmed the availability of oxygen in all hospitals receiving coronavirus patients nationwide

A patient wearing a ventilator (photo: AP)

Egypt’s health ministry denied news and footage concluding that the lack of oxygen in two public hospitals was behind the recent death of six coronavirus patients.

The ministry, in a statement on Sunday, affirmed the availability of oxygen in sufficient quantities in all hospitals receiving coronavirus patients nationwide, including Al-Husayniah Central Hospital in Sharqiya governorate and Zefta General Hospital in Gharbiya governorate, where the six patients died.

The ministry’s statement was released amid outrage on social media after a circulating video showed doctors and nurses in Al-Husayniah hospital’s intensive care unit striving to save the lives of some patients.

Another video filmed in the same hospital showed patients on beds, with a man saying “everyone in the [intensive] care [unit] died.”

The four cases in the intensive care unit of Al-Husayniah hospital died on Saturday at different times, health ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed said in the Sunday statement.

He noted that the majority of the patients who died were elderly with chronic diseases and suffering from coronavirus complications, which resulted in the deterioration of their health. 

Hospital beds that were connected to the oxygen network included 11 at the neonatal intensive care unit (NICUs), two at the internal medicine ICU, three at the heart ICU, seven at the ICU allocated for coronavirus patients and 33 at the quarantine section of coronavirus patients, the spokesman said.

“They were all provided with oxygen from the same network with high rates and none of them was affected, which affirms there is no relation between the death cases and rumours of the lack of oxygen in the hospital,” Megahed said, referring to the findings of reports issued by a central committee formed as per the health minister’s directives following the incident.

Megahed said the hospital had a full 50 litre oxygen container on Saturday in addition to a reserve stock of 45 oxygen cylinders.

Health minister Hala Zayed and Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly held a meeting on Sunday during which Zayed submitted reports on the two hospitals to the premier.

The four people who died at the Al-Husayniah hospital were aged 44, 64, 67 and 76, the reports said, noting that the cause of death was cardiac arrest, perhaps due to a clot in the pulmonary artery.

Concerning the Zefta hospital, she affirmed that the two reported deaths were of coronavirus patients who were suffering from diabetes and hypertension.

Zefta's ICU equipment was in good condition and had no leaks or breakdowns, Zayed said.

On Saturday, the oxygen container in the Zefta hospital was 99 percent full and later, at 12am, it was 40 percent full and was refilled. 

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