Egyptian Covid patient falls to his death at Nile Delta hospital

Egypt is currently gripped by a second wave of the virus, as the government tries to avoid another lockdown

A picture taken by a doctor at the Sheikh Zayed hospital in the Egyptian capital Cairo on April 29, 2020, shows members of a medical staff, wearing protective gear, intubating a patient in the isolated ward for the coronavirus (COVID-19) patients. - The virus has so far infected over 8,000 people and claimed 514 lives in Egypt, according to official figures. (Photo by YAHYA DIWER / AFP)
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An Egyptian coronavirus patient has fallen to his death from a fourth-storey balcony at a hospital where he was being quarantined in what police suspect to be suicide.

Police in the Nile Delta province of Daqahliya said the patient, a 59-year-old man, had repeatedly demanded to be discharged from the hospital before his death.

Two other coronavirus patients who shared his room told the police that the man did not want to stay in hospital. The police said the attending nurse and two of the man's adult children – aged 36 and 28 – also gave similar testimonies.

Egypt is currently gripped by a second wave of the virus, which has prompted the government to close down schools and universities until late in February.

Additionally, police have been handing out 50 pound ($3.18) fines to people not wearing masks on public transport, in communal taxis, banks and government offices.

The daily rate of confirmed Coivid-19 cases has been hovering around 1,000 in the past two weeks, but government officials and experts believe the actual number might be as much as tenfold given the country's limited testing capacity.

Egyptians have been venting their grievances on social media about the government's response to the pandemic and the alleged poor conditions of the hospitals treating coronavirus patients.

In recent weeks, dozens of public figures including celebrities, talk show hosts and footballers have announced on social media that they have contracted the virus and called for their fans to pray for them.

The government, which is expected to introduce a vaccination programme in the coming weeks, maintains that it is handling the pandemic efficiently and scientifically, and that dozens of hospitals treating coronavirus patients across the country have all the necessary supplies and staff. The military has been producing protective equipment, ventilators and other items needed to handle the situation.

The government has no intention to impose another lockdown similar to the one enforced between March and July, last year. It argues that the best method to combat the virus is to diligently abide by the mandatory face masks, social distancing and regular hand washing.

It says a repeat of the lockdown could cause an economic meltdown that would cancel out the hard-won recovery made through drastic reforms over the past six years.

Earlier this month, the government said it was investigating the death of four coronavirus patients at a hospital, also located in the Nile Delta. It denied allegations made by relatives that they died of a sudden disruption in the supply of oxygen.

The incident came on the heels of the death of two coronavirus patients, also in the delta region, allegedly due to lack of ventilator support.

The government said the pair had ongoing health issues and succumbed to the virus.