A 52-year-old asthma patient, died in Medak district of Telangana allegedly due to non-availability of timely treatment after ambulance staff declined to take him to hospital citing COVID-19 apprehensions and lack of Personnel Protection Equipment (PPE) kits, the police said on Thursday.
In a video that has surfaced, R Srinivas Babu is seen lying on the ground next to a tree, with his head on his bag and struggling to breathe, as a policeman and other officials ask him questions.
"I am having breathing problems. I am from Secunderabad," he says. Asked how and why he was in Chegunta in Medak district, he says that he got down from a bus and was travelling for some work.
According to police, the man was returning to Hyderabad from Kamareddy district in a bus on Wednesday evening and got down at Chegunta to visit a hospital after he suffered difficulty in breathing.
"After the man suffered breathlessness, he asked the bus to stop, saying he will go to a hospital. He alighted and started walking towards the hospital, but suddenly collapsed at the side of the road," a police official said.
In the video, Srinivas is heard narrating, "I couldn't bear it, so I got down. I'm lying down here hoping that someone will take me to the hospital."
Though police rushed to the spot and called an ambulance, they claimed that the emergency vehicle took around one hour to arrive. Even after arriving, the staff were hesitant to shift Srinivas, suspecting that he was showing symptoms of COVID-19.
The police then called up another ambulance, meant for shifting COVID-19 patients, which reached the spot after 45 minutes, but by the time it arrived, Srinivas had died.
Visuals also showed Srinivas' lifeless body lying on the mud, even as an ambulance was parked nearby.
The man's family members and relatives were informed and the police arranged another ambulance to shift his body to Hyderabad, an police official told PTI, adding, that the family has not filed a complaint as it was a natural death.