Indian doctor who complained about coronavirus PPE committed to mental institution, report says

A doctor in India who allegedly came under fire for raising concerns about a lack of personal protective equipment for health care workers treating coronavirus patients at his government-run hospital has now been committed to a mental institution, BBC Telugu reported.

Dr. Duhakar Rao, who was allegedly suspended after speaking to media about a lack of equipment, was reportedly detained while driving on a highway recently.

“He’s a reputed doctor,” Kaveri Rao, the anesthetist’s mother, told BBC Telugu. “But he has been facing abuse since the day he raised those concerns. I feel bad when people call me and ask about him. He has been very stressed for weeks.”

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The police maintain that Rao had been acting erratically and witnesses called to complain. They claim that when they arrived, he threw a liquor bottle and was acting rudely to police. No witnesses, however, have corroborated the account, according to BBC Telugu.

He was reportedly taken from the local police station to a hospital, where it was advised that he be admitted to a mental institution. A hospital official purportedly told the news outlet that Rao seemed stable but is under observation for two weeks.

Rao first made headlines when he claimed that the hospital he works at was requiring staff to wear the same protective gown and mask for two weeks before asking for new PPE.

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“How can we treat patients risking our lives?” he asked, according to local media. He was then suspended.

According to the Associated Press, India designated more than 600 hospitals for COVID-19 patients and trained more than 1 million doctors and 1.7 million nurses to treat patients, according to its government. Authorities had attempted to divert suspected and confirmed patients to the designated hospitals, but several other hospitals reported outbreaks spread by patients who didn't know they had the virus. It wasn't until earlier this month that the government announced it would provide all health care workers with PPE.

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India has over 112,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 3,430 deaths. The country of 1.3 billion began easing it's two-month-long lockdown last week, with the restarting of some train services, construction and the opening of more businesses.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.