A relative of one of the patients said the deaths were due to a lack of oxygen at a government-run hospital.
Egyptian prosecutors on Sunday opened an inquest into the deaths of at least four coronavirus patients at an Egyptian public hospital, after a video of nurses struggling to keep patients alive was widely shared on social media.
The governor of Sharqia province has denied claims by a relative of one of the patients that the deaths were caused by lack of oxygen in the government-run intensive care unit treating COVID patients. 19.
Governor Mamdouh Ghorab said the patients had died because they suffered from chronic illnesses in addition to the virus. The parent, who also filmed the video, offered no immediate evidence to support his claim that the hospital was running out of oxygen.
Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab world with more than 100 million people, faces an increase in confirmed virus cases and new calls on the government to impose a lockdown to contain a second wave of the pandemic.
Sharqia’s prosecutor’s office said it was investigating the deaths.
The hospital director and doctors were being questioned, according to a Cairo prosecutor official who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
The four dead were two women in their sixties and two men aged 76 and 44, according to local media. There are currently 36 patients infected with the virus in the hospital’s isolation ward, the governor said.
Egyptian Health Minister Hala Zayed said later on Sunday that there was “sufficient medical oxygen in all hospitals receiving coronavirus patients”.
“They are all dead. Eyewitness from inside Hussainiya Isolation Hospital in Sharqia, Egypt documents moments of panic, horror and tragedy after oxygen was TURNED OFF from coronavirus patients in the unit hospital intensive care unit. #Intensive care pic.twitter.com/9Rf1bTX3A2
– Wirjil (@Wirjil) January 3, 2021
Surge in cases
The deaths follow similar claims by a relative last week that two patients died due to lack of oxygen at a government hospital elsewhere in the Nile Delta.
Prosecutors in Menoufiya province opened an investigation into the cause of death on Friday.
Egypt’s highest health authority announced that a Chinese vaccine made by Sinopharm has been approved for emergency use and inoculations will begin within two weeks.
In televised comments on Saturday, Health Minister Hala Zayed said negotiations were also underway to procure two more vaccines – one from the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, as well as the another from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.
Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said last month that the government had pledged to purchase 20 million doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine and 30 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, according to the state daily Al-Ahram.
Egypt has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases reported daily in recent weeks.
The health ministry on Saturday announced more than 1,400 new cases and 54 deaths, one of the highest official daily records since the pandemic began last year.
Overall, Egypt has reported 140,878 confirmed cases, including 7,741 deaths.
However, the actual number of COVID-19 cases in Egypt is believed to be much higher, in part due to the limited number of tests and the number of patients being treated at home or in private hospitals.