Turkey hospital fire kills 8 Covid-19 ICU patients

Police and medics gather outside the privately-run Sanko University Hospital in Gaziantep, southeastern Turkey, Saturday, after a fire broke out at an intensive care unit treating Covid-19 patients. AP

Turkish media say eight people have been killed in a fire at an intensive care unit treating Covid-19 patients

A fire broke out on Saturday at an intensive care unit treating Covid-19 patients in southern Turkey after an oxygen cylinder exploded, killing eight people, state-run media reported.

The Anadolu news agency said the fire took place at the privately-run Sanko University Hospital unit in Gaziantep. It cited a hospital statement identifying the victims as being between 56 and 85. The fire was quickly brought under control.

The statement said 14 patients undergoing intensive care treatment were transferred to other hospitals. An investigation was under way.

The provincial governor’s office later said 19 patients were in the unit when a “high pressure oxygen device” exploded at 4.45am. Other than the fatalities, no others were injured in the fire, it said.

Intensive care units across Turkey currently have a 74 per cent bed occupancy rate due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to government figures, although medical associations say the figure is higher and their hospitals are overrun with Covid-19 patients.

On Friday evening, Turkey’s Health Ministry reported 26,410 new coronavirus cases, bringing the country’s total since March to 1.98 million. The figure includes asymptomatic cases, which Ankara did not report in the four months up to late November, prompting criticism that the government was trying to hide the extent of the country’s outbreak.

Turkey hit a record daily high of 246 Covid-19-related deaths reported Friday for an overall reported coronavirus death toll of 17,610.

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