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Egypt's health minister admits to oxygen crisis in hospitals

An Egyptian medical worker checks blood donated from a person who recovered from Covid-19 in Cairo on 22 July 2020 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images]
An Egyptian medical worker checks blood donated from a person who recovered from Covid-19 in Cairo on 22 July 2020 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images]

Egypt's Health Minister Hala Zayed has admitted that there is an oxygen crisis in hospitals following a tsunami of criticism on social media after an entire ICU ward died due to lack of oxygen.

For the past several days footage of the ward at El Husseineya Central Hospital in Ash Sharqia province has circulated online.

It was captured by a relative of one of the patients who also died when the level of oxygen dropped to almost less than two per cent meaning there was not enough oxygen or pressure to save patients' lives.

Zayed initially denied that there was a lack of oxygen and instead tried to blame "rumours" being spread by the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. She tried to put the deaths down to complications caused by the coronavirus crisis.

Commentators were calling on their fellow Egyptians not to go to hospital and to hold Zayed to account.

READ: Egypt: Entire ICU ward dies after oxygen supply fails

For the past three weeks doctors have tried to speak out about the lack of medicine, including oxygen, as the second wave of coronavirus takes over Egypt.

The manager of Hamool Hospital in Kafr Al-Sheikh appealed on Facebook for oxygen cylinders, but as has been the case throughout Egypt's pandemic, doctors who are critical of the government's handling of the crisis have been punished by the state.

The manager of the hospital was referred for investigation by the governor of Kafr Al-Sheikh.

On Facebook, Khaled Mujahed, Ministry of Health spokesman, wrote that going forward a digital system will be put in place so that hospital staff can check around the clock the consumption of oxygen and how many beds and ventilators are being used in hospitals. This, he explained, will ensure that oxygen supply levels are not less than 12 operating hours at the hospital's full capacity.

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