Mumbai

COVID-19 | Unani doctor attached to 108 ambulance dies

Hazardous: Doctors and healthcare workers have been tirelessly working on the frontlines.   | Photo Credit: PSrushti

A 51-year-old Unani doctor attached to the State-run 108 ambulance service succumbed to the SARS-CoV-2 infection on Wednesday.

The doctor had travelled with COVID-19 patients across the city, stabilising them before they reached hospitals, over the past several weeks. But when he contracted the virus, he had to travel to five hospitals in an autorickshaw before he could get a bed.

He is the fourth doctor in the city to die of COVID-19.

The Unani practitioner was a resident of Cheetah Camp near Trombay, where he also ran his own clinic at night. According to his 17-year-old son, he developed mild fever and cough on May 12. The next day, he informed his seniors he would not be reporting for work.

“He was taking medicines at home. My mother kept insisting that he go to a hospital, but he thought his symptoms were mild and he would get better,” said the doctor’s son.

On the night of May 22, exactly 10 days after he developed symptoms, his condition worsened.

“He had been feeling chest discomfort and began getting breathless. We decided to go to a local hospital,” the son said. While most doctors in the area knew him, securing a bed and getting immediate treatment was still not easy. In an autorickshaw, the father and son went to four hospitals, including the civic-run Shatabdi Hospital in Govandi, finally finding a bed at the fifth facility they visited.

In the first private hospital they went to, the doctor was told his condition was serious and he should go to a higher grade centre. The second hospital said they were taking only COVID-19 patients and his status was unknown, even though he had the classic symptoms of the infection, while the third private hospital said they had no doctors available.

At Shatabdi Hospital, there was no bed and he was referred to the civic-run Sion hospital.

“We reached Sion hospital around 1 a.m. on May 23. By then, my father could not even walk. He was taken into the casualty department and put on oxygen support. Since there were many patients, he was sharing a bed with another person,” said the son.

His father was treated in the casualty department till the next day before being shifted to a ward. By then, his COVID-19 test report had returned positive. “His condition continued to worsen, but there was no intervention except for the oxygen mask. Doctors only came for rounds once a day in the evening,” the son said.

He was later put on a non-invasive ventilator, but succumbed to the infection on Wednesday afternoon. It was only after his death that his family learnt that he had diabetes, which had till then been undiagnosed.

The son said that while out in the ambulance, his father would get the entire PPE kit. After returning home, he would wear mask and gloves and examine patients at his clinic from 9 p.m. to midnight. His clinic was attached to his home in Cheetah Camp, which falls under the M East ward, from where many COVID-19 cases have been recorded.

On May 22, a homoeopath from Chembur died of the infection.

Earlier, a 37-year-old Unani practitioner from Govandi died on April 23, while the virus claimed an 85-year-old surgeon from Saifee Hospital on March 22.

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Printable version | Oct 2, 2020 3:53:16 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/covid-19-claims-unani-doctor-attached-to-108-ambulance/article31698964.ece

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