Iraq: fire in Covid-19 Intensive Care Unit kills 23 dead

At least 60 people died on Saturday night following a fire and explosion at Al Jatib hospital in southeastern Baghdad, Iraq.

O previous number pointed to 24 deaths at the hospital’s intensive care unit dedicated to infected with covid-19.

According to the same source, the fire resulted from the explosion of oxygen cylinders. The deaths were due to asphyxiation, he said.

The fire is said to have originated from oxygen cylinders “stored without complying with security conditions”, medical sources told the France-Presse news agency (AFP).

During the night, when dozens of family members were next to the bed of “30 patients in this intensive care unit” of the hospital reserved for the most serious cases of covid-19, the flames spread, a medical source reported.

Videos circulate on social networks showing firefighters trying to put out the fire, while patients and family members try to escape from the building, located on the southeastern outskirts of Baghdad.

In turn, the Iraqi state news agency, INA, reported that the fire may have been caused by a short circuit or by the explosion of oxygen cylinders in poor condition.

More than 20 firefighting teams managed to extinguish the flames of this “massive fire”, according to the Iraqi Civil Defense, which said in a statement that they managed to rescue around 90 patients during the evacuation of the center.

The note adds that dozens of neighbors helped patients, most of them elderly and people who were connected to ventilators.

The Iraqi Public Commission on Human Rights asked the government to take responsibility for the incident and demanded the resignation of the Minister of Health, while recalling the deficiencies of the Iraqi health system, especially during a situation as exceptional as the covid pandemic. -19.

The governor of Baghdad, Mohammed Jaber, demanded from the Ministry of Health a commission of inquiry “so that those who have not done their job are brought to justice”.

Iraq on Wednesday surpassed one million cases of covid-19, but probably because of its population, one of the youngest in the world, has a relatively low number of deaths.

In total, according to the Ministry of Health, 1,025,288 Iraqis have been infected since the pandemic began in February 2020, of which 15,217 died.

Iraq has received a total of almost 650,000 doses of different vaccines, almost all in the form of a donation or through the international Covax program, which aims to ensure equitable access to vaccines.

Almost 300,000 people have already received at least the first dose, according to the Ministry of Health, which tries to convince a population very skeptical about the vaccine and who has avoided wearing masks since the beginning of the pandemic.

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