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Medical staff in Romania remember those killed in hospital fire

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A medical worker, wearing a mask for protection against the COVID-19 infection
A medical worker, wearing a mask for protection against the COVID-19 infection   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda
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Romanian medical staff observed a moment of silence for the victims of a fire at a hospital treating COVID-19 patients.

Holding banners and balloons, they remembered the 11 people who died and seven who were critically injured when a fire spread through an intensive care unit at a hospital in northeastern Romania.

They held banners reading "Don't let the healthcare system die" and released balloons in memory of the victims.

The head of the intensive care unit at the hospital, Liviu Ungureanu, said the fire was caused by a syringe pump that caught fire and set a nurse's protective suit ablaze. It spread to the unit that had intubated COVID-19 patients.

After the accident, authorities announced checks in intensive care units across the country and Romanian prosecutors are investigating.

Beatrice Mahler, director of the Marius Nasta hospital in Bucharest, said it's difficult to have technicians regularly check electrical installations.

Marius Filip, director of the Romanian health authority, told AFP that despite progress since the October 2015 fire at a nightclub in Bucharest that left 64 people dead, there are still many hospitals that do not have certifications from firefighters.

According to Filip, less than a third of Romania's 670 hospitals to date have the required authorisations.

Carmen Uscatu and Oana Gheorghiu, co-chairs of an NGO building a children's hospital funded entirely by private donations, said there is a risk of another disaster.

A hospital for coronavirus patients set up not far from Piatra Neamț "seems to be an even more dangerous improvisation than the establishment which burned down," they said.

It has a heating system that could break down and a medical gas installation built in violation of safety standards, they said.