Fire sweeps an Indian COVID ward for second time in a week, at least 18 patients dead
At least 12 COVID-19 patients have died in a fire that broke out in an Indian hospital early Saturday morning, 1 May 2021. A similar blaze ripped through another Indian hospital over the last week. The most recent fire occurred at 01h00am on Saturday on the ground floor of Welfare Hospital. The hospital is a four-storey COVID-19 facility located in Bharuch, a city located in the western state of Gujarat. The blaze ripped through a COVID-19 ward in the city of Bharuch, killing at least 18 people, 16 of them patients, two of them health care workers. At least 12 patients died due to the flames and resulting smoke. An additional 50 patients were rescued by locals and fire fighters. Efforts were underway to determine the fire’s cause and fire department officials said a short circuit might have led to the blaze.
The surviving patients were relocated to other nearby hospitals for continued care.
The deadly hospital fire added to the country’s misery as it battles new global records in a staggering second wave of coronavirus cases that has left millions infected and put more stress on India’s already overtaxed health care system.
A separate fire this week killed four people at a hospital in Surat, another city in Gujarat. At least 22 COVID-19 patients died at a hospital a few days earlier in the neighbouring state of Maharashtra when a leak cut off their oxygen supply. And two days later, a fire at another hospital in Maharashtra left at least 13 COVID-19 patients dead.
A similar fire killed at least 15 COVID-19 patients on Friday, 23 April 2021. The fire occurred in the private-owned Vijay Vallabh COVID Care hospital in Virar, a city located in the eastern state of Maharashtra. Fire officials said the blaze started around 3:15 a.m. local time due to a short circuit in an air conditioning unit. The short circuit caused an explosion that destroyed the hospital's entire intensive care unit.
A surge of cases and deaths overwhelmed India, which continued its catastrophic run of record coronavirus transmissions on Saturday with more than 400 000 new reported cases and 3 500 deaths. No other country has surpassed 400 000 reported cases in a single day.
The second wave has crammed hospitals and left people dying as they wait to see doctors. Relatives of the sick are sharing pleas on social media for oxygen, medicine and other scarce supplies. There have been more than 19 million confirmed cases in India and more than 211 000 deaths, according to a New York Times database. Experts say the true numbers are probably much higher.
The country’s health system, fragile and underfunded even in normal times, is showing signs of strain. The fire in Bharuch, in Gujarat State, came after several recent accidents in Indian hospitals that have claimed the lives of COVID-19 patients.
Sources: News Week, The New York Times