Two deaths in four days, a woman gave birth in the ambulance; interstate ambulance driver narrates the heartbreaking, helpless situation in lock down

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As stringent restrictions by Karnataka government continue at Kasargode- Karnataka high way on the fifth day of COVID 19 lockdown, medical emergencies seeking to enter Karnataka faces severe crisis. The Kerala- Karnataka state border is closed at 21 places.

“There is no medical college here, there is no super specialty hospital here, there are two clinics both are shut. In this condition, no patient can be taken to the hospital in Mangaluru.”says ambulance driver Aslam who had to return from the toll gate at Talapady, with several patients with medical emergency, including a pregnant woman. Aslam, a native of Manjeswaram is the district secretary of Ambulance Owners and Drivers Association.

Today morning, a seventy year old kidney patient died of not being able to access medical care. Pathumma from Udupi’s Udyavara was being taken to the hospital in Mangaluru yesterday. She was at her son’s house in Manjeswaram. Aslam says the ambulance was blocked on the way and had to take her home by night. This is the second death reported due to the highway blockade since the lockdown began. Abdul Hameed, an asthma patient had died on 26th, in a similar crisis.

Ibrahim, son of Abdul Hameed who died of the lock down restrictions at Kerala- Karnataka border in Kasargode district says,

“On 26th evening we took father to hospital, at Talappady toll we were stopped. We took him to a hospital in Uppala, there we were told that he must be taken to Mangaluru. We thought we will take him home and next day we will try some other way, but by nine that night, he died. We were in a car. No ambulances are given permission to enter Karnataka. All the possible roads to Mangaluru are blocked. Karnataka police is guarding Talapady toll. Be it ambulance or anything else, no one from Kerala must be allowed to enter, this is their stance.  People from Kannur and Kasargode districts depend Mangaluru for medical emergencies like these. The block still continues.”

“From this border village Manjeshwaram, there is a hospital in nine kilometers, there is another one in fourteen kilometers, in Mangaluru. I pleaded to the police in Thalapady toll gate that this woman is pregnant and her cries were loud, even they might have heard, they replied that “it is not a problem even if she die, we will not let go”. I tried to take her to general hospital, Kasargode, it is around 40 kilometers distance from there. She gave birth on the way. Only goods trucks are let go.” Said Aslam.

“Dialysis patients are facing a challenge. On 25th, a stroke patient was stopped on the way for one and half hours. No journalists or no media reaches there. Several pregnant women are admitted at EK Nayanar hospital in Kasargode. It is a small hospital. They are compelled to choose minimum facilities. All of them are those who rely on Mangaluru. In these past four to five days, I was stopped several times, with patients in different emergencies. We are facing abuses too. Yesterday, chief minister gave a statement that they will intervene in this. Mangalore city police commissioner Harsha had strictly advised to not to allow anyone, sometime back I came to know about three to four dialysis patients who were stuck, Kasargode doesn’t have a facility for that. They will get infection if it is not done. We are facing severe trouble.” said Aslam.

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan had addressed the issue in his press conference, two days back. Mangaluru south BJP MLA Vedavyasa Kamath had posted on facebook that “Mangaloreans safety is the priority.”

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