Five Covid-19 patients die in Russia hospital fire

Firefighters at St George Hospital, 12 May 20 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Firefighters at St George Hospital – the blaze broke out on the sixth floor

A fire at a St Petersburg hospital has killed five coronavirus patients in an intensive care unit.

The blaze was apparently started by a short-circuit in a ventilator, Russian news agencies reported.

The fire has now been contained and 150 people have been evacuated from the hospital, the country’s emergency ministry said. It is not clear how many people have been injured.

All of the patients who died had been on ventilators.

“The ventilators are working to their limits. Preliminary indications are that it was overloaded and caught fire, and that was the cause,” a source at St Petersburg emergencies department told the Interfax news agency.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Fire-damaged windows are visible at the hospital

St Petersburg, with a population of approximately 4.9 million people, has 5,483 hospital beds for Covid-19 patients.

The city has Russia’s third-highest infection rate, with 7,700 infected patients and 56 recorded deaths.

The St George Hospital in the Vyborg district had been converted to a Covid-19 hospital at the end of March.

The news of the fire comes as the country is starting to ease lockdown restrictions. Construction, farming and factory workers are resuming their duties.

Russia now has the third-highest number of confirmed infections worldwide. On Monday, it reported a record daily rise of 11,656 cases, bringing the official total to 221,344.

That means Russia now has more confirmed cases than both Italy and the UK.