COVID-19: Diabetic man dies of lack of food, medicine at Delhi quarantine centre

A 50-year-old diabetic patient died at COVID-19 quarantine centre set up by Delhi government because he was denied medicine, was not given food on time despite several requests to staff and doctors

COVID-19: Diabetic man dies of lack of food, medicine at Delhi quarantine centre

Ashlin Mathew

A 50-year-old diabetic patient died on Wednesday at the COVID-19 quarantine centre set up by the Delhi government in Sultanpuri because he was denied medicine and was not given food on time despite several requests to the staff and doctors.

Mohamed Musthafa, a resident of Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, had been moved to the quarantine centre in West Delhi from Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital four days ago even before his final test results had come in.

COVID-19: Diabetic man dies of lack of food, medicine at Delhi quarantine centre

He had travelled to Delhi to attend the Tablighi Jamaat conference on March 19. He was scheduled to leave on March 24 like several others from Tamil Nadu. But, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the lockdown giving only a four-hour notice, he was taken along with several others to Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital on March 31. He had initially tested positive and was in the hospital until April 18.

“Mustafa had been requesting the doctors for diabetes medicine and for timely food. But, no one wanted to listen. He told me that he would be okay if he got medicine and food. And now I will not even be able to see him,” cried his wife Razia. They have two teenage sons.

He had been feeling unwell for a few days and even when he spoke to his wife of Tuesday evening, he assured her feebly that he was hoping to get something to eat soon. “We had informed the special officer Sidddique overlooking Covid-19 issues in Tamil Nadu. Through the Tamil Nadu government we had informed the principal resident commissioner of the TN government in Delhi too,” explained Fathima Muzaffer, member of Indian Union Muslim League in Tamil Nadu.

Muzaffer asserted that they had sent several IUML workers in Delhi with the protective gear to the quarantine centre with food, but they were denied entry. “Our Delhi workers got letters from our MPs to carry dry fruits, medicines, water bottles and fruits, but they were denied entry. The police at the gate threw away the food and chased away the volunteers. If they are not going to allow anyone to help them, then they should provide people with food and medicine. Now, they are being left to die,” underscored Muzaffer, who is also a member of the All India Muslim Personal Board.

At the Sultanpuri quarantine centre, breakfast comes only at 11.30 am and that is two slices of bread and banana. Lunch is two rotis with a vegetable curry and dinner is usually 2 rotis with dal. “Lunch comes after 2.30 pm. How can a diabetic patient survive? A person who is diabetic has to eat every two hours. We don’t get tea in the morning and we are not allowed to step out to buy a packet of biscuit or chocolate. We have the money, but there are policemen guarding the quarters and they scream at us if we step out of the building. But, they will also not help us,” said Inayatullah, who has also been quarantined at Sultanpuri. He is worried for himself also as he is diabetic. He said he has to save bits of the rotis so that he doesn’t faint.

The quarantine centre at Sultanpuri has five floors and around 550 patients, but the doctors do not visit all the floors. “Doctors do not come every day and even when they come, they do not give us enough medicines. They only go to the first and second floors, but there are patients on all the five floors. No nurses come here. There are several people here who suffer from hypertension, diabetes, heart diseases and asthma. Most of their medicines have gotten over. We have been requesting for medicines, but the doctor gives us medicine for only once a day. Several of us have to eat medicines thrice a day. More people will die due to lack of care than Covid-19 at this centre,” pointed out Inayatullah.

There have been complaints of lack of water, unhygienic surroundings and mosquitoes from those who have been quarantined at Sultanpuri. Spoilt food packets are not regularly collected and no one comes to clean the building either. “The building is extremely dusty and the bathrooms unclean. We are worried we will contract other diseases by the time we have to go home. There are no fans and mosquitoes are swarming around. There is so much dust and the asthma patient has been finding it difficult to breathe. His medicines are over, but he has not been given a new inhaler. We are ready to pay, even then no one wants to help us buy these basic items. There will be many more cases like Musthafa’s if the government does not send us medicine and food on time,” cried another resident, who did not want to be named.

In the letter to the Principal Resident Commissioner of Tamil Nadu House, the Delhi nodal officer stated that Mustafa died at the quarantine centre and his body has been moved to the mortuary at LN Hospital. The letter states that the body would be released only after Musthafa’s family conset for burial in Delhi has been obtained.

Last week, another man from Tamil Nadu, who had come for the Tablighi Jamaat conference, had died at Lok Nayak Hospital and the staff misled the son, who was also admitted in the same hospital. The hospital hadn’t informed him if his father had tested positive for the virus. Instead, after his death, they called his relatives in Tamil Nadu to inform them of the death.

Earlier this month, several of those who attended the large congregation in Nizamuddin unwittingly carried the virus. More than 600 confirmed cases and at least 10 deaths across the country have been linked to people who attended events at the Tablighi Jamaat centre.

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