Philippines douses five-hour blaze at Manila hospital

Officials appeal for big, industrial fans to clear smoke after fire breaks out at Philippine General Hospital.

Patients at Philippine General Hospital are evacuated after a fire broke out past midnight in the government-run facility amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Manila, Philippines, May 16, 2021 [Eloisa Lopez/ Reuters]

Firefighters have put out a blaze at one of the Philippines’ largest hospitals that had prompted the evacuation of dozens of people from the facility, which also treats coronavirus patients.

No casualties were reported in Sunday’s fire at the government-run Philippine General Hospital in the capital, Manila. The blaze was extinguished five hours after it broke out, at dawn.

Its cause is not known and hospital authorities could not be reached for comment.

Dr Jay Germer, professor at the University of Philippines’ College of Medicine said all of the hospital’s staff and patients were safe and accounted for.

“The problem is now smoke in the wards,” she said.

Vice President Leni Robredo made an appeal on Twitter for “big, industrial fans” to clear the smoke caused by the fire.

Some patients were transferred to nearby hospitals, including two who needed surgery and 12 babies from the neonatal intensive care unit, CNN Philippines said, citing hospital officials.

Patients infected with COVID-19 were meanwhile evacuated to an intensive care unit and an emergency room in a separate ward of the hospital, the Rappler website reported.

“We secured them there and we made sure they were not able to mingle with our non-COVID patients,” Dr Jonas del Rosario, a spokesman for the hospital, was quoted as saying.

Staff at the facility said the fire started in an operating room supply area soon after midnight.

The hospital has more than 1,300 beds and treats 600,000 patients a year, as per its website.

With more than 1.1 million infections and deaths in excess of 19,000, the Philippines ranks second in Southeast Asia in terms of COVID-19 cases.

Source: Al Jazeera, Reuters