Egypt: Mobile phones banned in hospitals after ICU ward mass death

Egypt’s health minister has stipulated that mobile phones must be taken away from hospital patients for the duration of their stay following the death of an entire ICU ward over the weekend that was caught on camera.

Egyptian Al-Shorouk newspaper reports that following a meeting between Hala Zayed and hospital directors, hospital administrators began withdrawing mobile phones from patients when they were admitted and then returned them once the patients were released from hospital.

Several families were worried when they couldn’t get in touch with their loved ones and when they called the hospital, they were informed about the health minister’s decision. They were told that whilst smart phones were banned, mobile phones without cameras were permitted.

In line with the meeting, the Public Authority for Health Insurance issued a decision to ban photography and videography inside hospitals including in intensive care units.

Egypt’s health minister is at the center of a scandal after an entire ICU ward at a covid quarantine center at El Husseineya Hospital in Ash Sharqia Province died over the weekend because the amount of oxygen, and the pressure, dipped too low.

Zayed has attempted to cover up what happening, initially putting their deaths down to coronavirus complications and rumors spread by the Muslim Brotherhood. However, a family member of one of the patients caught their final moments on film and the footage, which was widely circulated on social media, caused an uproar.

Ahmed Mamdouh’s 66-year-old aunt Fatima Al-Sayed Ibrahim was among the patients being treated in the isolation ward who passed away.

A photo of a nurse crouching in despair also went viral and shone a light on Egypt’s health care crisis. A shortage of basic medicine, including oxygen, has brought the health care system to the brink of collapse.

Security services in Ash Sharqia Governorate summoned Ahmed for investigation and opened a second probe into the security company at El Husseineya Hospital for allowing someone to film there, which allegedly caused “panic among citizens.”

Zayed later admitted that there was an oxygen crisis in hospitals and said that a digital system would be put in place so that medics could check oxygen levels around the clock.