Egypt said Sunday it had opened an investigation into the deaths of four Covid-19 patients in an intensive care unit allegedly due to lack of oxygen, amid a public outcry.
“The prosecutor’s office in Al-Husseiniya (in the northern Sharqiya province) summoned the director of Al-Husseiniya hospital to question him over the deaths of four people due to lack of oxygen,” a judicial source told AFP, without specifying the dates of the deaths.
Since Saturday, numerous social media users had shared a video of patients in a hospital ward, with a voice heard saying “everyone is dead in intensive care”.
The prosecutor’s office confirmed the video was of Al-Husseiniya hospital, which was also identified in comments on social media.
The 45-second video also shows hospital staff apparently trying to revive patients.
But Egypt’s Health Minister Hala Zayed said later Sunday that there were “sufficient medical oxygen supplies at all hospitals receiving coronavirus patients”.
Ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed said the patients in Al-Husseiniya had “died at different times and most of them were elderly and suffering from chronic illnesses” which had been exacerbated by the virus, leading to their deaths.
Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country with around 100 million inhabitants, has reported more than 140,000 cases of the Covid-19 disease, including 7,800 deaths.
Authorities acknowledge, however, that the real number of cases is higher, as only positive tests from health ministry labs have been reported.
After a brief lull, the number of infections rose dramatically in late 2020, from around 100 new cases confirmed per day in October, to some 1,400 daily cases currently.