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Premier orders fast investigation into fatal 'V. Babes' mobile ICU oxygen failure

Inquam Photos / George Calin
Raed Arafat Florin Citu

Prime Minister Florin Citu offered on Monday night his condolences to the families of the three Covid patients who died earlier in the day at the mobile Intensive Care Unit of the 'Victor Babes' Hospital in Bucharest, following a malfunction of the oxygen supply system. Citu announced that he asked the Minister of the Interior to initiate a fast investigation into the case for all those who will be found guilty to be held accountable.

"Tragedy hit again in Romania, this time at the 'Victor Babes' Hospital, where three people died for reasons still unknown to us at this moment. My condolences to the grieving families. From what we know so far, it appears to be an accident, but an investigation has also kicked off. (...) I asked the IntMin to conduct this investigation as fast and transparently as possible, for all the culprits for what happened tonight to be held accountable," Florin Citu said at the Victoria Palace of Government.

The Premier added that in the war with the Covid pandemic, hospitals and intensive care units in particular are under very high pressure, and therefore the help of all the society's actors is needed, emphasizing that vaccination is the only way out of this tough situation.

"We have been caught in a fight and a war with this pandemic for a year now. The pressure on hospitals is very high, the pressure on intensive care units is extremely high. Everybody's help is needed and that is why we have always said, and especially lately, that the vaccination drive is the only solution, it is very important at this time. The reason why I came out tonight - and this is important - is because I saw that the managers or the state representatives are skirting communication. The citizens need us to communicate more in such moments. They need us to come and explain. That's why I also brought [Emergency Department head] Arafat with me tonight to explain exactly what happened. He'll take your questions. What we know so far: we must no longer run away from communication. We must communicate transparently to Romanians every time," Citu said.

The head of the Executive also assured that the authorities will further do their best to provide as many intensive care beds as possible, yet he pointed out that there is no guarantee now that such accidents won't happen again. "In order to reduce the pressure and make sure this doesn't repeat we need a successful vaccination campaign. They are going hand in hand at this moment," Citu declared.

In his turn, head of the Department for Emergency Situations Raed Arafat said that the ICU oxygen pressure increased abruptly at 16:25 hrs, causing the US-manufactured breathing ventilators to shut down for protection. He also explained that the mobile unit's oxygen supply system was carried out by an authorized company, that there was nothing improvised in the mobile facility which has successfully serviced some 600 - 700 patients in the months since its commissioning. The ordered investigation is to determine the cause for the surge in the oxygen pressure.

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