Bangladesh: hospital fire kills five coronavirus patients

Five coronavirus patients died after a hospital fire broke out in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka on Wednesday, a fire service official declared.

It was not immediately clear what caused the fire, said Zillur Rahman, a fire service director. Firefighters extinguished the flames in about an hour, Rahman said.

A makeshift isolation unit for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients in the United Hospital is pictured after a fire broke out and killed several patients, in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Image credit Reuters, Stringer

Five bodies were recovered from the makeshift isolation unit of the United Hospital treating COVID-19 patients, Rahman said. The dead included four men and a woman aged between 45 and 75, he declared.

Hospitals are struggling to deal with a spike in coronavirus infections in recent weeks in Bangladesh, which for now has reported 38,292 cases and 544 deaths.

Some health experts are concerned that the real number of cases could be higher in a country of more than 160 million people where the majority of the population has only limited access to healthcare.

Image credit PTI

Lax regulations and poor enforcement have often been blamed for large fires in the South Asian nation that have killed hundreds of people in recent years.

The most tragic ones were in February and March 2019, where at least 25 people were killed and other 71 passed away accordingly when a fire broke out in a 22-storey commercial building in Dhaka’s upscale area of Banani and in an inferno in a centuries-old neighbourhood of Dhaka where many others were injured.

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