Not too long ago, we were watching visuals of large number of COVID patients going to hospitals in New York, Italy and Spain, where there were no beds available, and the number of deaths was continuing to rise daily. Right now, hospitals in Delhi and Mumbai are on the verge of such a grim situation. The overall picture across India is worrying. With 295 deaths, the highest in a single day, the death toll in India has reached 6,643. There were 9,377 new cases reported on Friday, and at 2,36,117, India is now in sixth place, pushing Italy behind.
There have been many cases in Delhi and Mumbai where hospitals have refused to admit critically ill COVID patients. Patients are dying because hospitals refused to admit them.
Let me give you some examples. Delhi’s Gangaram Hospital refused to admit a nine-month pregnant lady because she was found COVID positive. Her family alleged that the hospital demanded Rs 5 lakhs for her admission. Since the family was poor, it managed to collect only Rs two lakhs. The private hospital told the family to take her away to some government hospital which provides free treatment. Later, the private hospital administration admitted its error and promised to bear the entire costs of treating the lady.
In Mumbai, a 69-year-old diabetic patient was to undergo gall bladder surgery but was found COVID positive. On Saturday, the patient’s oxygen level fell by 50 per cent. The patient’s engineer son phoned BMC helpline but was told no hospital was available. He contacted nearly a dozen hospitals and all of them refused. At around 9.30 pm a private hospital agreed to take the patient. The son contacted an ambulance driver, who demanded Rs 8000 for transporting the patient to a distance of merely 300 metres. The driver claimed that his owner had told him to ferry each patient for Rs 8000. Finally, the lady passed away in her home in Kurla.
Mumbai mayor Kishori Pednekar told India TV that during normal times, nearly 3,000 ambulances used to be available in the city, but now the number has dwindled to only one hundred. The mayor said this was because most of the ambulance drivers are unwilling to work fearing COVID. This is the situation in a metro which has more than 45,000 COVID patients.
In Mumbai’s Jogeshwari, a 55-year-old patient died on a wheelchair after seven hospitals refused to admit him. In Delhi, 75-year-old Moti Ram Goyal, a resident of Nand Nagri, moved Delhi high court seeking direction for providing him a bed in a government hospital, as he was a COVID patient. Goyal died on June 3, two hours after the appeal was filed before the high court.
Another Delhi resident Lakhjit Singh was taken to LNJP hospital at 7.30 am. Doctors asked where the COVID test was done, when his son said the test was done at Gangaram hospital, he was told to take his father to Gangaram hospital. The son begged doctors for assistance, the patient was forcibly taken inside the hospital on a stretcher, an oxygen cylinder was somehow procured, but by that time, the old man had died, gasping for breath. LNJP hospital authorities later claimed that the patient was ‘brought dead’. A plain, white lie.
The corporation-run Bara Hindurao hospital has stopped taking COVID swab tests. Nearly 50 people, including some doctors, who had gone there for tests were turned away. The hospital used to send samples to NCDC (National Centre for Disease Control), which used to send reports. NCDC said, its backlog has increased in recent days, and they were unable to take samples. A lab in Noida was contacted by the hospital, but the lab too declined to take samples.
In Thane, near Mumbai, a private lab was found taking COVID swab samples by appointing a dancer, an artist and a clean-up marshal, all of them have no technical knowledge. This path lab had got approval to carry out COVID tests from the Indian Council of Medical Research. Out of the 10 persons hired by the lab, most of them are non-technical persons. The lab owner told India TV reporter that when his lab got ICMR approval in April, he had 8 to 10 technical persons working, but all of them left fearing Coronavirus.
There is this video of a patient lying on a stretcher outside GTB Hospital, Delhi, gasping for breath, but not a single nurse, doctor or attendant was available. The hospital refused to admit the patient, Ravi Agrawal, saying that now since it was a COVID dedicated hospital, no patient can be admitted without a COVID positive test report. Ravi Agrawal’s relatives had taken him to several hospitals, but all of them refused to admit.
While India TV reporter was speaking to a GTB hospital doctor Dr Rajesh Kalra, another lady with breathing trouble was brought to the hospital, but the lady was shooed off from the emergency ward without any checks. The neighbour who had brought the lady patient, told India TV reporter that they had gone to several hospitals, and all of them refused to admit her. There is another video of Max hospital, Patparganj, refusing to admit even non-COVID patients, though the hospital administration has later issued a clarification.
Delhi government says there is no dearth of doctors, nurses and hospital videos, but the ground reality seems to be harsher. People are now making videos and circulating them when they find that their relatives are not being admitted to hospitals. Every day, I received scores of videos, and I get them checked with our reporters.
Doctors say patients who have mild symptoms of COVID need not panic. They can stay at home for 14 days and take full precautions to recover. Doctors point out that hospitals are places where oxygen and ventilators are provided to critically ill patients, and those who have COVID symptoms should not worry.
This is easier said than done. People do not trust when the government and doctors tell them to stay at home if found to be COVID positive. There is a need to build trust in the minds of people.
Already, the COVID figures are worrying. Delhi recorded 44 deaths in a span of three days from June 1 to 3, and the death toll has now reached 708. There were 1,330 new cases on Friday, and the total number of COVID cases in the capital has gone up to 26,334. Out of this, 11,870 cases were reported in a span of the last ten days. The situation is worse in Mumbai. There were 54 deaths on Friday taking the total death toll to 1,158. There were 1,150 new cases taking the total number to over 45,000.
If this is the situation in metros like Delhi and Mumbai, think about rural areas.
In Araria, Bihar, a lady auxiliary midwife-nurse (ANM) begged doctors to treat her husband, but they refused. Her husband, Jayaprakash Singh, had returned from Delhi on May 28. He was kept in quarantine and then sent to a hospital in Forbesganj. The hospital sent him to the Araria district hospital. Since he was a suspected COVID patient, the doctors in Araria hospital refused to treat him. The man ultimately died.
There is this video from Dhanbad, Jharkhand, where bodies of two dead patients from PMCH hospital were being taken in a cycle cart, due to lack of ambulance. The medical infrastructure in both Bihar and Jharkhand is already weak. There are three patients sleeping on a single bed and now this video of two bodies being carried on a cycle cart. Such visuals are disturbing and people may not forget them for a long time.
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