COVID-19 patient goes 'missing' from hospital; kin protest

A 33-year-old woman patient has allegedly gone missing from a COVID-19 jumbo hospital in Pune, prompting her family members to stage a protest outside the medical facility on Thursday.

While the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) said the woman was discharged from the hospital on September 5, her relatives have filed a missing person's complaint at Shivajinagar police station here in Maharashtra.

The woman was admitted to the hospital, located at the College of Engineering Pune (COEP) ground, on August 29 after testing positive for coronavirus, her mother told reporters.

"I came to meet her the next day, but the staff at the jumbo facility told me that the patient is inside the ward and she is safe. I was asked not to worry and instructed to come after 15 days," she said.

She said on September 13, when she and her relatives reached the hospital and searched for her daughter, she was not found.

"When the hospital authorities told us to come after 15 days of the quarantine period, why was she given discharge in between? Why were we not informed? Why she was not sent home in an ambulance?" the woman's mother asked.

She alleged that when they asked for the CCTV footage, the hospital staff claimed the agency which was operating the facility earlier had taken away all the data.

"Ultimately, we approached the Shivajinagar police station and lodged a missing complaint on September 14," she said.

Rahul Dambale, a Pune-based social activist who is helping the family, said the missing complaint should have ideally been registered by the management of the jumbo facility, which was set up in July.

"As the woman's whereabouts are not known for last 25 days, her family staged a protest outside the facility today," he said.

PMC's Deputy Municipal Commissioner Rajendra Muthe said as per records of the jumbo COVID-19 hospital, the woman was given discharge on September 5.

"We have the hospital's CCTV footage till September 4 in which the patient's movement inside the facility is seen.

We are in the process of handing over all the records and footage to the police for further investigation," he said.

An official from the Shivajinagar police station said after the missing complaint was lodged, they had approached the hospital and asked for the woman's admission and discharge records along with the CCTV footage.

"We are expecting all the records from the hospital today. We have already circulated the woman's photographs to all the police stations and efforts are on to trace her," the official said.

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Free Press Journal