Fire at COVID-19 hospital in Romania kills two

Two patients died and a nurse was injured when a fire broke out in a COVID-19 hospital in the central Romanian city of Ploiesti early on Thursday, officials said, the latest in a string of deadly hospital fires over the past year.

The fire, which was quickly extinguished, broke out at around 0200 GMT and affected one room. Fifteen patients in the wing were moved to another hospital.

There were more than 17,400 COVID-19 patients, including 310 children, being treated in Romanian hospitals on Thursday, including 1,823 in intensive care units.

Romania has the second-lowest vaccination rate in the European Union and one of the highest COVID-19 mortality rates in the world, with record daily infection numbers throughout October stretching its hospitals.

In October, a fire killed seven people in the intensive care unit of a hospital in the eastern city of Constanta. In February, a fire killed four patients in the capital, Bucharest. Last November, 10 people died in a blaze in an intensive care unit at the Piatra Neamt county hospital.

Officials have begun regularly inspecting oxygen lines and fire permits at hospitals.

Even before the pandemic, Romania had one of the EU's least developed healthcare infrastructures. The state has built one hospital in the last three decades, spends the least on healthcare in the EU and has a shortage of doctors and nurses.

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