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Romania COVID-19 hospital fire leaves four dead

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A fire engine is parked a hospital after a fire broke out on the ground floor Friday Jan. 29, 2021.
A fire engine is parked a hospital after a fire broke out on the ground floor Friday Jan. 29, 2021.   -   Copyright  Vadim Ghirda/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
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At least four people have been killed in a blaze at a hospital in Bucharest being used to treat COVID-19 patients, just three months after another hospital fire killed 10 people north of the Romanian capital.

The fire broke out at the Matei Bals Hospital in Bucharest, one of the city's largest, early on Friday.

"Three patients were found dead and a fourth died later," said Secretary of State at the Ministry of the Interior, Raed Arafat, adding that they were patients with Covid-19.

"About 120 patients who were in the same ward were evacuated," ISU spokesperson Bogdan Toma told AFP.

In November the hospital, also known as the National Insititute of Infectious Diseases, made headlines in Romania when images were published online showing overcrowded wards and patients having to be treated in corridors due to an influx of COVID-19 cases.

😢😢😢😢 Cam asa arata holurile spitalului Matei Bals cu bolnavi de Covid , este inspaimantator , nu mai au pe unde sa ii...

Posted by Constantin Vasile Ifteme on Tuesday, November 24, 2020

On November 14, 10 people were killed at a hospital treating COVID-19 patients in the northern city of Piatra Neamt.

After the accident, authorities announced checks in intensive care units across the country.

Speaking at the time, Marius Filip, director of the Romanian health authority, told AFP that less than a third of Romania's 670 hospitals have fire-safety certification.

The fires - and the COVID-19 pandemic - have brought Romania's faltering healthcare system into stark focus in the five years since an October fire at a Bucharest nightclub left 64 people dead.