We Have No Information About My Father After He Tested Positive For Covid-19

Amnesty International India
26 July 2020 11:36 am

Varavara Rao tested positive for Covid-19 on 16th July. But even after all these days, his family has not been updated about his health condition even once. Listen to Varavara Rao’s daughter Pendyala Pavana narrate on how the state has been neglecting the health of the 80-year-old activist and denying them information regarding his health condition.

You can read the transcript of the interview below:

Click to hear part I of this interview. 

Pendyala Pavana, Varavara Rao’s Daughter

We met him on 15 July in JJ Hospital, when we came to know that he was shifted there. We took permission from the Taloja jail authorities. He was in Ward 11, which is called the transit ward, meant to keep people before their COVID test.

What we saw there was that he was sitting in the corner of the bed, it was a bed with rails on all sides so that he doesn’t fall down. He was sitting in the corner, leaning on the rails with folded legs. There was a nurse and a police constable there. When we went, the first thing they asked us was “are you his family”, when we were trying to say that we have permission. The first thing I told them was to move him inside the bed. When we tried to move, we noticed that the bedsheet was wet, completely wet. So maybe he was searching for a dry place and moved himself to one of the corners of the bed and he was sitting there. The nurse and the constable were not even touching him or trying to move him, they were just telling him to move, which he was unable to do. So, we moved him and we asked for the bedsheet to be changed. Then they gave us a sheet which was made of the fibre material like in the masks that you use.

We changed it ourselves. It was a difficult condition there. And also, we did not see any equipment, there was no IV drip. His main issue was loss of sodium, which we have been talking about for some time. There was no oximeter or any kind of apparatus there. He was also suffering with BPH, which is prostate gland enlargement issue in which urination cannot be controlled. There was no urine catheter or any bag or any such kind of thing. He was brought there on 13 July afternoon and we met him on 15 July 3 PM, which is three days. In those three days, I don’t know what treatment was being given to him. Maybe a medication was given, I don’t know. He was just lying on the bed. We couldn’t see any equipment or anything there. This was our last meeting. On the 16th, we went back to see him and talk to him, but by the time we reached the ward, doctors told us that he had already tested positive, so we couldn’t meet him there.

Since we had come from Hyderabad, we requested that we see him from a distance at least. So, they allowed us. We saw him from a distance, and he was lying down on the bed. Maybe sleeping, maybe a little drowsy, we don’t know and we came back.

Question: Are you aware of what his condition is right now? Since he’s tested for COVID? Are the authorities sharing medical updates with you right now?

Pendyala Pavana: No, nothing. We contacted the hospital, and the response from the hospital is that as his case is being heard in the courts, they are waiting for directions from the court and the state government. He is under treatment; they cannot give us the information regarding his health directly. This is the response from the hospital to the family. When the media people ask, they say that they’ll give the information to the jail authorities, they cannot disclose to anyone.

Today I called the jail authorities also, the jail authorities say that they don’t have any information, so I asked how to get more information since he’s an undertrial and in the custody of Taloja Jail. They said they will find out from the doctor and if there is anything they know they will communicate. This happened today morning. We don’t have any information other than that he was shifted to Nanavati hospital.