EL HUSSEINEYA, Egypt – The sound of night echoing from the balcony of an Egyptian hospital. A nurse was screaming that patients in the intensive care unit were panting for air.
Standing outside, Ahmed Nafei crushed a security guard from behind, entered and saw that his 62-year-old aunt had died.
Angrily, he turned on his phone and started filming. The hospital seems to have run out of oxygen. The monitors were beeping. A nurse was apparently distraught and walking in a corner when her colleagues tried to retrieve a man using a manual ventilator.
At least four patients died.
This month, a 47-second video of Mr. Nafei, a victim of the chaos at Al Husseineya Central Hospital, about two and a half hours north of Cairo, went viral on social media.
As the outrage escalated, the government denied that the hospital had run out of oxygen.
An official statement issued the following day concluded that the four people who died had “complications” and denied that the deaths were linked to oxygen deprivation. Security officials questioned Mr Nafei, and officials accused him of violating hospitalization and filming rules.
A New York Times investigation, however, found otherwise.
Witnesses, including medical staff and patients’ relatives, said in interviews that oxygen levels had dropped dramatically. At least three patients reported, and possibly a fourth, died of lack of oxygen. A closer look at the video of doctors in Egypt and the United States confirms that the chaos in the ICU indicates an interruption in the supply of oxygen.
Our investigation revealed that the deadly lack of oxygen was the end result of a clash of problems at the hospital. By the time the patients in the ICU began to suffocate, the oxygen supply that had been ordered had already started hours late and the backup oxygen system had failed.
A hospital doctor, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he feared being arrested. “We will not bury our heads in the sand and are making excuses for everything,” he said. “The whole world may recognize that there is a problem, but not us.”
The government’s denial of the incident is just the latest example of a lack of transparency in response to the bribery crisis, which has led to corruption and a lack of trust in its public assurances.
For many Egyptians, Mr. Nafei’s video presents an unusual and censored view of the original tool of the corona virus on the top of Egypt, the second wave of epidemics.
The government acknowledged that four people had died in the intensive care unit on January 2, but denied that it was due to a lack of oxygen.
The health ministry said in a statement that most of the patients who died were elderly, had died at different times and at least a dozen other patients, including newborns in the incubators, were connected to the same oxygen network. Were and they were not affected. Confirmation of these factors, he said, “lacks the link between deaths and allegations of oxygen deprivation.”
Medical staff confirmed that the hospital’s oxygen supply had not been completely cut off, but said the pressure was dangerously low. He said it was even worse in the intensive care unit, and not enough to keep patients alive. The ICU locations could be at the end of the network, or there could be other malfunctions in the pipeline, he explained.
Further deterioration hampered efforts to address the hospital’s staff shortage. When they tried to convert the supply of oxygen from the hospital’s main tank to the hospital’s main tank into a backup reserve, the reserve system appeared overwhelmed and failed.
Earlier, aware that he was running low, hospital officials had requested more oxygen from the Ministry of Health. But the delivery truck, which was in the afternoon, arrived more than three hours late.
“If it had arrived by 6 pm, nothing would have happened,” said the hospital doctor.
The medical experts who analyzed the video, including six doctors from the United States and Egypt, saw details that helped detect oxygen failure.
In the video, it appears that no patient is connected to the central oxygen line.
A doctor is using a portable tank, usually used in an emergency and only temporarily. And a few feet away, a group of nurses are seen trying to resuscitate a hand-pumped patient who does not appear to be connected by oxygen.
“There is no oxygen tube attached to the airbag,” said Dr. Hicham Alnachawati, a New York emergency care physician who works in the hospital’s ICUs. It doesn’t happen. This is impossible unless you have oxygen. “
Another doctor reviewing the video, Dr. Bushra Mina, the Egyptian-American chief of pulmonology at Lynx Hill Hospital, who has cared for hundreds of Cove 19 patients in New York, described the video as “immediate” for doctors and nurses. Note. “Trying to supply or supplement oxygen to patients in an emergency.”
“Even in the United States, you have a lot of resources, even if it can be tremendous,” said Dr. Mena. “So imagine Egypt, where resources are limited and you are beyond your capacity.”
The oxygen crisis at Al Husseineya Central Hospital may not be the only one.
Symptoms of shortage in other hospitals flooded social media for a week. A hospital director called on people on social media to donate portable oxygen tanks, citing an “urgent need”. In a separate hospital, a patient filmed himself in an isolated ward, saying, “We don’t have that much oxygen.” And a video of a scene similar to Mr. Nafei’s went viral online.
These claims could not be independently verified.
“What’s the real problem?” A human rights group asked Ayman Sabae, a researcher on the Egyptian initiative for personal rights. No one but the government can claim this information.
The government’s record during the crisis has not created confidence that it is on par with the Egyptians.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has condemned critics of the government’s Corona virus efforts as “enemies of the state.” His security services expelled a foreign journalist who had questioned government officials. Prosecutors have warned that anyone spreading “false news” about the corona virus could face up to five years in prison.
And the government is embroiled in a bitter dispute with doctors, who revolted before the epidemic due to a lack of safety equipment. Several doctors were jailed.
Mr Saba said: “They’re trying to control the narrative, they’re trying to make sure things seem to be under control and part of that is to control the information Do what is delivered to the public. ” “I have no problem with that if the government provides us with reliable information that we can count on.”
Instead, when the video of Al-Husseinia Central Hospital came out, the response was to tell the Egyptians not to believe what they saw.
“This is not a scene that shows a lack of oxygen,” said Mamdouh Ghorab, the governor of Al-Sharqiya, which includes Al-Husseiniya Central Hospital. He was speaking on a pro-government television program that did not interview or invite any witnesses to challenge the official statement.
Even official numbers are in doubt. More than 150,000 cases and more than 8,000 deaths have been reported in Egypt, an unusually low number for the region and the country of more than 100 million people.
But outside experts, and even some government officials, say the two figures are largely flawed, largely due to a lack of extensive testing and the fact that the labs they test always fail. Do not report to the government.
Even when he denied the lack of oxygen in Al-Husseineya Central, the authorities acknowledged the problem and took steps to address it.
Health Minister Hala Zaid acknowledged the shortage of oxygen trucks and delays in distribution. President CC asked the government to double the production of oxygen to meet the increase in demand.
The government apparently took another step in response to the video of the crisis in Al-Husseineya Central. Visitors must now leave their phones at the door.