In a rare gesture, a government doctor from Telangana left his stethoscope to drive a tractor to the crematorium to transport a COVID-19 victim’s body after the driver refused to do so.
The incident happened in Peddapalli district on Sunday where the 45-year old doctor works as a district surveillance officer. According to Dr Pendyala Sriram, the driver was unwilling to drive the tractor fearing that he could contract the virus.
When the local government hospital in Peddapalli informed the doctor about the situation, he decided to step in to drive the tractor himself. The death of a 45-year old man on Sunday after testing positive on June 10 was the first such case in the district hospital, said Dr Sriram.
“This is the first death in our district hospital. Hence, it created a lot of panic among people. Although our staff were trained to handle the situation, they were hesitant. The municipal staff cooperated, but the driver left in fear of contracting COVID-19,” he told News18.
Family members of the deceased were also helpless in such a situation. According to the doctor, the hospital does not have an ambulance. The district collector has supplied them PPE kits and body bags which are being used.
Meanwhile, praises poured in for the doctor who made sure that the victim received dignity in death and his last rites were performed in time as per protocol.
Telangana Finance Minister Harish Rao Thanneru said Dr Sriram is an inspiration for all those who are fighting against the pandemic. “You’ve proved that humanity is still alive. You’re an inspiration to all of us who are fighting against Covid,” Rao wrote on Twitter.
Dr Sriram, who is also a part-time farmer, said he is not just a doctor, but also a government servant and it is his duty to help people in need.
“It was already five hours that the family was waiting for the body to be taken to the crematorium. I just did my duty,” said Dr Sriram, who has not been able to visit his mango orchard in Karimnagar district over the weekends due to the coronavirus outbreak.