India Covid crisis: Autorickshaw drivers offer 'ambulance' services to coronavirus patients
The majority are poor fishermen or farmers who cannot afford the expensive hospital ambulances.
Autorickshaw drivers in Kerala are helping Covid patients, taking them in their vehicles to hospitals especially in areas where ambulances are difficult to find.
Sanjeev Raj, 40, of Cherthala taluk in Alappuzha has been taking Covid patients in his ‘autorickshaw ambulance’ for the past six months. “If someone develops symptoms of Covid and wants to go to a hospital, most autorickshaw owners are reluctant to carry them for fear of infection,” Raj told the media. “I do not fear the pandemic and help by taking them to the hospital in my vehicle.”
The autorickshaw driver said he uses sanitisers and other preventive tools in his vehicle. The majority of people in his area are poor fishermen or farmers who cannot afford the expensive hospital ambulances, he added.
Another such auto driver is K. Premachandran in Vellur near Payyannur, who is known as “the common man’s ambulance’. Way back in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic, he took a pregnant woman who had returned to Kerala from the Gulf in his vehicle. He has since been providing transport to patients showing Covid-19 symptoms.
Premachandran confirmed that most people who need an autorickshaw are poor; unfortunately, many drivers stopped taking them to hospitals. “I felt it was not fair,” said Premachandran. But other drivers are now gradually willing to transport patients to hospitals in Kerala, he added.
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