Kerala

Two auto drivers ferry over 2,000 COVID-19 patients

Autorickshaw drivers C. Hareesh Karuvacheri and Ratheesh in Nileswaram.   | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Despite the COVID-19 restrictions, two autorickshaw drivers in Nileswaram have been working to help affected patients for over a year.

C.Hareesh Karuvacheri, 48, and Ratheesh,42, have helped over 2,000 patients from various parts of Nileswaram, Kanhangad municipality, and Charavathur panchayat since the first wave of COVID-19 outbreak.

They came forward to help COVID-19 patients, when ambulances fell short and other drivers refused to take the patients to hospital after they were confirmed positive for the disease.

Mr. Hareesh recalled that he took the first patient in his autorickshaw in March last year. The driver, who brought the patient to the hospital, refused to pick him up after knowing that he was positive for COVID-19. Since then, the number of calls for taking people to hospitals and to testing centres have only increased.

During the first wave, there were just 10 cases a day, but now they were handling over 30 cases a day, he said.

“Since we have been working for the past one year, people call us directly or they approach us through Asha workers to take them to the hospital,” said Mr. Ratheesh.

He said calls would come even in the wee hours and sometimes at midnight. But there was great satisfaction when the people recovered and called them back, he said.

Though their families were initially reluctant, they now extended complete support to both of them.

Their service also helped them to take care of the family during the pandemic as they charged a nominal fare from the people for taking them to the hospital and back home.

Fare waived

However, they ensured that no poor person was affected due to lack of transport facility. They waived the fare for them.

Interestingly, the virus never affected them, despite their transporting several COVID patients. All that protected them was their mask and the sanitiser that they used regularly.

Inspired by their initiative, five more auto drivers have joined them. Mr. Hareesh coordinates with other drivers whenever a call is received from people.


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Printable version | Jun 21, 2021 3:53:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/two-auto-drivers-ferry-over-2000-covid-19-patients/article34537493.ece

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