A pregnant Algerian doctor who was denied maternity leave has died of the coronavirus, prompting the dismissal of the Ras El Oued hospital director, AFP reports.
Wafa Boudissa, the 28-year-old victim, was eight months pregnant when she died on Friday night.
Boudissa had requested early maternity leave three times, but the hospital chief refused to let her have time off.
Boudissa’s colleagues had signed a petition backing her request to take early maternity leave, after a presidential decree, released as the coronavirus reached Algeria, stated that pregnant women and mothers were among individuals allowed to take exceptional leave from work.
According to Algerie Focus, Boudissa’s husband had moved the family to an apartment near the hospital at the start of Ramadan, after the director refused his wife early maternity leave.
Adding, the hospital director also refused to recognise the difficulties posed by transport and movement restrictions in the city as a result of the national lockdown.
Boudissa was working at the Intensive Care surgery unit of the Ras El Oued hospital in eastern Algeria, but the medical centre has denied she was treating coronavirus patients.
According to the hospital, all coronavirus patients in the province are being treated at another centre in the city.
Health Minister Abderraham Benbouzid sacked the hospital director after the news of Boudissa’s death was reported.
State television broadcast footage of the health minister saying he could not understand why a pregnant woman was forced to work, during a visit to the deceased’s family and the hospital to offer his condolences.
On Saturday, Benbouzid ordered an investigation into the doctor’s death, and in an unprecedented move tasked the inspector general of the health ministry to head the probe.
According to an AFP source, anyone found directly responsible for Boudissa’s death could face trial for negligent homicide.
The case has sparked outrage, with Algerians taking to Twitter calling for those responsible to go to prison.
One user wrote in French: “He deserves to go to jail, it’s clearly homicide.”
Others thanked Boudissa for her service.
Wafa Boudissa, morte du covid alors enceinte et dans ses fonctions. Une héroïne des temps modernes. Ces gens là méritent tellement de reconnaissance.
Mes condoléances la famille de cette héroïne peu connu. Allah y rahma 🖤🤲 pic.twitter.com/YPNGrIJXA0
— Eyeshield ⭐️🇩🇿⭐️ (@eyeshield_kun) May 17, 2020
To date, Algeria has reported 7,019 cases of the coronavirus, among them 548 deaths, according to data from John Hopkins University.