Four days after a female COVID-19 patient in Pathanamthitta district was sexually assaulted by an ambulance driver, Aranmula MLA Veena George has alleged major lapse from the part of Pathanamthitta district administration in the delay shown in shifting her to the hospital after her samples tested positive for the virus. According to the MLA, in whose constituency limits the crime took place, there was a delay of over 13 hours in shifting the 19-year-old woman to the hospital after her results came out on September 5.
As a result of the delay, the ambulance arrived at her house to take her to the COVID-19 First-Line Treatment Centre (CFLTC), close to midnight on September 5. It was on the way that the 28-year-old driver of the 108 ambulance service, Noufal, sexually assaulted the patient.
â€śThe district list, which mentioned the woman as a COVID-19 patient, was ready by 9.30 am on September 5. Yet, the ambulance was sent to shift her only after 11 pm. A few doctors also informed me about this delay,â€ť the MLA told TNM.
MLA Veena also alleged that although the district administration received this list by morning, it was only after 4 pm that the CFLTC in Adoor, where the patient was supposed to be admitted, received the list. The ambulance from this CFLTC was sent to her house only in the night, she added.
The MLA also alleged lapse from the part of the CFLTC officials.
According to the MLA, though the CFLTC was only a 10-minute drive from her house in Adoor, she was not dropped at this treatment centre. â€śFrom the information I received, the ambulance drove past the Adoor CFLTC and entered the Aranmula constituency limits, where the assault took place. The officials at the Adoor CFLTC also did not enquire when the patient did not reach the centre after a point in time. Many are to be blamed here for the lapse,â€ť she added.
The MLA also alleged that Noufal was not the driver assigned to pick up the woman. â€śThe originally assigned driver told the accused person that he did not have enough fuel in his ambulance, and in turn, asked Noufal to take the woman to the CFLTC. To my knowledge, this arrangement was not informed to the CFLTC either,â€ť she added.
Soon after the assault, the Pathanamthitta police could arrest accused Noufal, who is already an accused in a murder attempt case in 2019. The state government has already faced flak for hiring a person with a criminal record. The accused has now been dismissed from the service.
Meanwhile, the police are probing the lapse in assigning the driver, said MLA Veena George.