A 19-year-old girl was allegedly raped by an ambulance driver while she was being taken to the hospital after she tested positive for COVID-19.
She is said to have been attacked by the 29-year-old driver identified simply as V Noufal, in the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala, India, last Saturday, September 7.
Noufal was arrested the next day and police said he had not obtained the mandatory clearance certificate before joining as a driver.
He picked up the victim as well as a 42-year-old woman at Adoor government general hospital after they tested positive for coronavirus.
After dropping off the older woman, from Adoor, at a Covid centre in Aranmula, the driver drove the victim to Firstline Covid Treatment Centre in Pandalam.
Reports say the driver took her to a secluded area en route, removed his PPE and raped the girl at around 10pm.
He reportedly apologised for the attack before threatening her not to tell anyone and dropping her off the hospital.
The teenager told hospital staff when she arrived in Pandalam and the man was arrested on Sunday morning.
Health Minister KK Shailaja described the attack in Kerala as ‘shocking’ and ‘inhuman’.
A health department official told The Indian Express patients from a particular locality are usually picked up together and taken to hospital.
The official said: ‘The driver’s chamber is partitioned and no other staff or nurse accompanies the driver while ferrying patients to hospital.
‘This is to limit the exposure of health workers to infected persons. In rare cases, if the patient is serious, we send a nurse. In this case, both patients were stable.’