Mumbai: The popular human rights activist and Telugu poet Varavara Rao has tested COVID positive, sources told NewsMeter.

Mr. Rao is currently admitted at Mumbai’s Grant Medical Hospital (JJ Hospital), where he was taken from Taloja Jail on July 13th because of ill health. On the afternoon of July 16th, Thursday, he was tested positive for the novel coronavirus. He is an accused in the Elgar Parishad case.

Families of the activist informed several human rights organisations about his critical condition, including Human Rights’ Defenders Alert. Speaking to Newsmeter on call, the current secretary Henri Tiphage confirmed the news.

NewsMeter also contacted officials at the JJ Hospital in Mumbai, who initially did not disclose any information due to doctor-patient confidentiality, but said that any information given by the family is reliable.

Family members of the activist, in an address to the media on July 12th, informed that his condition has been deteriorating ever since he was admitted to the JJ Hospital on May 28th. They alleged that the police had not been taking care of him since his return, and that for the last six weeks his health has been critical.

“The immediate cause of concern now is that we are perturbed at the routine phone call we received from him on Saturday evening. Though, the earlier two calls, on June 24 and July 2, were also worrying with his weak and muffled voice, in the call made on Saturday, his incoherent speech and abruptly jumping to Hindi makes us worry more. As an eloquent and articulate public speaker and writer in Telugu for over five decades, a Telugu teacher for four decades and known for his meticulous memory, this fumbling, incoherence and loss of memory are in themselves strange and frightening,” said Hemalatha, Varavara Rao’s wife in the video conference.

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