Consternation was caused at the Nicosia general hospital when a patient on oxygen lit up a cigarette causing a fire, it emerged on Tuesday.

The patient was being treated in the operating room and, while receiving oxygen, he lit a cigarette, state health services (Okypy) spokesman Charalambos Charilaou told the CyBC.

Nurses immediately noticed the incident and rushed to shut off the oxygen and put out the fire, while the patient sustained minor burns to his face and neck.

“The patient has been intubated and is in the Burns Intensive Care Unit of the Nicosia general hospital, due to smoke inhalation,” Charilaou said.

The man had initially been admitted to hospital for pulmonary problems, the spokesman added.

“Everyone can realise what would have happened if the nurses had not reacted in time,” Charilaou said, describing the incident as “unacceptable”.