'Waited for 12 hours': Telangana stops ambulances with COVID patients at AP border

As per a new order, only those patients who have an appointment with hospitals and state authorisation are allowed to enter Telangana.
Telangana police personnel stopping an ambulance coming from Andhra
Telangana police personnel stopping an ambulance coming from Andhra
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Amid a state-wide lockdown in Telangana, tens of ambulances ferrying COVID-19 patients from Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh to Hyderabad were stopped at the Telangana border, near the Pullur Toll Plaza on NH 44. According to a new order issued by the state government, in order to enter Telangana, COVID-19 patients are required to have a prior appointment with hospitals and an authorisation letter from the state government.  

According to the order, hospitals in Telangana have to apply in the prescribed format to the state control room. After the receipt of the application, the control room will issue the authorisation letter which would allow the movement of COVID-19 patients into Telangana for treatment.

According to the patients’ attendants, ambulances were stopped near the Pullur Toll Plaza from 10 pm on Thursday, May 13. Reports of Suryapet police also stopping ambulances at Ramapuram also emerged around the same time. The anguished attendants of the patients alleged that police stopped the ambulances despite having the necessary documents. Veera Shekar, who was travelling with his 65-year-old COVID-19 positive father from Kadapa, told TNM, "We have a letter from the hospital which confirms a treatment appointment, but the police stated that it is not enough. They said that we should get the authorisation from the control room."

After waiting for around 12 hours, Veera Shekar’s father was taken to a hospital in Kurnool. "We have tried to reach out on the control room number but they are saying that the hospital should apply for the permission after confirming the appointment with the patient. But before it got too late we decided to take our father to a hospital in Kurnool,” he said. Close to 20 ambulances were stopped on Friday, May 14 alone.

Leaders of opposition parties have condemned the police’s move to stop ambulances on the Telangana border. Communist Party of India (CPI) National Secretary Narayana said, "It is not fair to stop the patients’ ambulances for the treatment. CM K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) should immediately intervene into the matter and allow the patients who are coming for treatment; otherwise, this will lead to a crisis."

TDP General Secretary and MLC Nara Lokesh urged the Telangana government to allow patients into the state on humanitarian grounds. He demanded that Andhra CM YS Jagana Mohan Reddy resolve the issue with his Telangana counterpart KCR. He also reiterated that Hyderabad serves as the joint capital for both the Telugu states for 10 years from the bifurcation, while stating that it is “unfortunate” that the Andhra government is not in a position to fight for the lives of its own patients.

As per official reports, more than 50% of beds in hospitals in Hyderabad are occupied by patients from other states like Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Chhattisgarh.

Even before the present government order on the movement of patients was issued, reports of police stopping COVID-19 patients from entering Hyderabad from Andhra Pradesh were seen. The police reportedly insisted on letters from concerned hospitals, and several critically ill patients were reportedly turned away.

At the time, the Telangana High Court had pulled up the government, stating that such acts are a violation of the right to life as guaranteed by the Constitution.
As per the latest order, hospitals in Telangana can apply for state authorisation by calling 040-24651119, sending a WhatsApp message to +91 9494438251, or via email to idsp@telangana.gov.in. Basic details like name of the patient, age, which state they are from and what kind of bed/treatment they require will need to be furnished.

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