The statement added that there were at least a dozen other patients in the hospital, including newborns in incubators, who were linked to the same oxygen network and that none were affected, “confirming the lack of a connection between the deaths and allegations made about a shortage of oxygen.”
The video clip, less than a minute long, spread quickly and widely on social media and was broadcast on state-owned television talk shows, where officials are invited to comment. Asked why relatives were allowed into the isolation ward, the governor of Al Sharqiya, a region northeast of Cairo where the hospital is, said that “there was no visitation” and that the man who filmed inside had “stormed the ward” after learning about the death of his relative.
The New York Times could not independently confirm if an interruption or shortage of oxygen had occurred, but two witnesses reached by phone objected to the official narrative and described a moment of panic among hospital staff members that was followed by the sudden death of a number of patients. They also said that they had been allowed to visit for an hour every day between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., a time they used to help feed and change their sick relatives.
“The doctor reassured us that he was in a stable condition, his oxygen level was at 95, he was walking and talking, no complaints,” said Barakat Abdel Aziz, 50, speaking about his younger brother who died in the hospital that day. Mr. Abdel Aziz said he returned in the evening to drop off some food. “Shortly after, there was commotion all around; people were saying the gas had finished and security forces surrounded the hospital.”
Ahmed Mamdouh, the man who filmed the video, was at the hospital visiting his aunt, who also died.
“Yes, we’re not supposed to be around Covid patients, but we go in wearing a mask, and that’s what we do to take care of our relatives,” said Mr. Mamdouh, 33. “That day she was eating yogurt with apples and oranges, and beef kofta with rice.”