Fire erupts in one of Romania’s biggest COVID-19 hospitals

Copyright  Vadim Ghirda/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

There has been a fire in one of the biggest COVID-19 hospitals in Romania, on 29 of January. Till now, 10 people have died, while more than 40 patients have been moved to other medical centers, according to the reports of the Minister of Internal Affairs. While politicians shift the blame from one to another, the public shows a growing distrust in the medical system and in authorities.

Matei Bals is one of the hospitals that have received considerable investments throughout the past years, according to a Facebook post of the Minister of Health, Vlad Voiculescu. But even before the fire, pictures with COVID-19 patients sleeping on its hallways were raising questions about its capabilities.

Now, relatives call the governmental telephone numbers to make sure that their loved ones are alright, or to find out where they have been moved. Authorities work with DNA samples to identify the victims who have been severely burned. Till this day, the cause of the fire is still debated, and a criminal investigation has been launched.

The miserable state of Romanian hospitals is a common and worn-out complaint among locals. For Dr. Andreea Barbulescu, the fire that took place at Matei Bals is an illustration of this dire reality. In a barely working system, the blame often falls on the medical personnel. “This should be the focus of specialized personnel such as electricians, not of doctors” Barbulescu says.

The systematic problem is acknowledged by the Minister of Health on his Facebook page. In a post, Vlad Voiculescu says: “The reality is that the majority of our hospitals are merely the result of chronic underinvestment and of underhanded purchases that have caused a long line of improvisations made by underpaid and insufficient technical personnel.”

But in the comment section, opinions are divided. Some show their support, others ask the minister to resign. One of them, Madalina Ciubitchi, just had enough: “I would never want to end up in a state hospital! Funny enough, in private hospitals this sort of things simply does not happen.”

Meanwhile, the political blame game has started. The former Health Minister Nelu Tataru is blaming the current minister for not taking the necessary actions to prevent it, since the last hospital fire that took place three months ago. Tataru talks about a report that was filed back then, but Vlad Voiculescu denies its existance.

Today, Romania has 732.732 confirmed cases of Coronavirus, according to the updated official report of the Minister of Internal Affairs.

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