Angry relatives of COVID-19 patient attack Baghdad hospital after deadly power outage

The Iraqi capital of Baghdad. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)
The Iraqi capital of Baghdad. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Following the death of a relative being treated for COVID-19 at a northern Baghdad hospital, Iraqi police announced on Sunday that several angry male family members had attacked the facility.

Roughly 10 gunmen stormed al-Kindi Hospital following the death of four coronavirus patients who suffocated when the ventilators they relied on to breathe shut down as a result of the nation's chronic power outages, a security source told AFP.

He added that the assailants were family members of one of the dead, enraged by the circumstances of the deaths.

The perpetrators, said police, were later arrested.

Since the coronavirus began spreading around Iraq in early 2020, under-resourced health workers have been the victims of abuse and retributive attacks by relatives of patients and other visitors. The attackers usually blame the death of their loved ones on health care providers who often lack sufficient resources to provide proper care.

Baghdad is still reeling from the second of two catastrophic hospital fires in less than three months that together resulted in the death of some 140 at coronavirus wards, according to government figures.

Also last week, Iraqi health officials reiterated previous warnings that increased coronavirus numbers continue to pose a serious threat, largely as a result of the general public's lack of cooperation with measures such as masking and social distancing as well as delays on the rollout of a national vaccination program.

Read More: COVID-19: As new daily cases near 10,000, Iraq hints at return of full curfew, border closures

The total number of coronavirus infections in Iraq since the first confirmed case in Feb. 2020 has reached nearly 1,5 million, nearly 18,000 of them proving fatal. 

Editing by John J. Catherine