Hyderabad: A COVID-19 patient, a 30-year-old man from Chanchalguda, had to wait for six hours for an ambulance on 26 May after several ambulance drivers refused to take him to Gandhi Hospital, Hyderabad, fearing contamination.

The man, who was undergoing treatment at Tumbay Hospital in Chaderghat for fever, tested positive on Tuesday morning. The Tumbay Hospital doctors were instructed to immediately shift the patient to Gandhi Hospital.

However, the patient’s family said Tumbay Hospital refused to provide them an ambulance and instead asked them to use their own vehicle to transport the patient. The family members tried reaching out to both private and government ambulance services. But the ambulance drivers, fearing COVID-19 transmission, denied their requests.

After nearly six hours, the family finally called Majlis Bachao Tehreek leader Amjed Ullah Khan who called up senior police officers and health officials and arranged an ambulance for the patient.

“It took six hours for an ambulance to reach Tumbay Hospital and shift the patient to Gandhi Hospital. This is the state of ambulance services in Telangana. The patient's brother tried to contact some government and private ambulance services but no one was ready to take the patient to Gandhi Hospital. This continued from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m," Mr Khan said. Once an ambulance was arranged, it took more than one-and-a-half-hour for it to reach Tumbay Hospital, he added.

This is not the first time that COVID-19 patients in Hyderabad have struggled to find transportation facilities. In April, there were two incidents where COVID-19 patients who had recovered struggled to reach their homes due to the non-availability of vehicles.

A 65-year-old COVID-19 patient from Bagh Amberpet was discharged at 11.30 p.m on 17 April. However, due to the lockdown there were no vehicles available, and the senior citizen, who is also a diabetes patient with high blood pressure, was left to fend for himself.

In another incident on 13 April, a COVID-19 patient of Secunderabad, along with his nine-year-old daughter, was discharged at around 11.30 p.m from Gandhi Hospital. The father-daughter duo had to wait until the next morning to reach home in an ambulance.

Dheeshma Puzhakkal

Dheeshma Puzhakkal is currently a Reporter with Newsmeter. An alumnus of Hyderabad Central University, she has interned with Greater Kashmir newspaper and NDTV. Dheeshma has also made short films and documentaries. Her documentary �Still I Rise�, which is based on sex-trafficking in Hyderabad�s Old City, has earned accolades in several film festivals, such as International Documentary and Short Film Festival, Kerala (IDSFFK). An avid foodie, she loves to travel and listen to stories that others tell. Photography is one of her all-time interests. She has extensively written on satellite-based journalism, health, consumer, and data stories besides covering anti-crime investigative agencies.

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