A heart-wrenching video of a woman crying and pleading for help from bystanders to help her sexagenarian husband, a suspected COVID-19 patient, into an ambulance at Bongaon in West Bengal went viral and the apathy of the people seen around them has come in for flak.
The six-minute-long video that went viral was reportedly shot on Saturday night and have gone viral since Sunday.
It showed 68-year-old Madhav Narayan Dutta sitting near an ambulance and panting as he made several unsuccessful attempts to climb into the ambulance, which was supposed to take him to a super speciality hospital in Kolkata.
After making several attempts to assist her husband, Dutta's wife is seen weeping and pleading bystanders to help him but to no avail.
The video showed the elderly man breathing his last near the ambulance after waiting for more than 30 minutes to get into the ambulance. It also showed his lifeless body lying near the ambulance.
A person wearing a PPE suit is seen standing a few metres away but did not come forward to help the hapless couple.
According to sources at the Bongaon sub-divisional hospital, Dutta was taken to the hospital around 7 pm onSaturday with complaints of breathing trouble and was admitted to the ward for suspected coronavirus patients.
After his condition deteriorated at around 10 pm, doctors referred him to a hospital in Kolkata, which is about 71 km away. An ambulance was arranged but none was willing to help him into it fearing that he was a COVID-19 patient, the sources said.
An inquiry has been ordered into the incident, thehospital sources said.
The man's wife has blamed the sub-divisional hospital for "negligence and apathy" for her husband's death.
"This is an inhuman incident. Don't have words tocondemn such an incident. It seems that the fear of COVID-19 has turned us into inhuman creatures," said Abhijit Chowdhury,a member of the Global Advisory Board on COVID-19 Response Policy.
Parties cutting across political lines condemned the incident, but those in the opposition blamed the stategovernment of failing to create an infrastructure to tackle the situation.
"The incident shows the poor state of health infrastructure in West Bengal," CPI(M) leader SujanChakraborty said.
State Parliamentary Affairs minister Partha Chatterjee too condemned the inhuman incident but refuted the allegation of the lack of health infrastructure in the state.