Government COVID Helpline in India Tells Patient to "Go and Die"

One patient in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India received a disturbing response when he called a COVID helpline asking for medical aid.

A staff member at the government-run Integrated COVID Control and Command Centre allegedly told the patient who reached out asking for help, due to his COVID diagnosis and symptoms, to "go and die."

The patient, Santosh Singh, a lawyer by profession, tested positive for the coronavirus on April 12 and had been at home quarantine along with his family. On the morning of April 15, he received an audio phone call from the Command Centre inquiring about his health.

Singh, who recorded this 57-second long audio call, shared it on social media later. After translation, the Command Centre helpline staff can be heard asking Singh if he is under home isolation and whether he had downloaded the home isolation app and filled in the required details.

Singh replied, saying that he was not informed to do so prior to that moment, insisting: "Just now you are telling me about this app." The Command Centre helpline staff said that this information was supposed to be provided by the district administration.

When Singh again said that that he hadn't been informed and that no doctor had contacted him, the staff caller snapped, saying, "Go and die, you are uncultured anyway." After this, the phone call was disconnected.

"All of my family members and I have tested COVID positive and, as suggested by the government, I contacted the helpline number. The next day I got a call from the helpline," said Singh.

"The woman on the other end, who introduced herself as Suchi, asked me if I had downloaded the app. I told her that nobody had asked me to download any app. She then said 'jao mar jao jaa kar', which translates to 'go and die'," Singh told the National Herald on Saturday.

#COVID19: मदद मांगने के लिये हेल्पलाइन में फोन किया था, मिली मर जाने की सलाह!#UttarPradesh #Coronavirus

— UP Tak (@UPTakOfficial) April 16, 2021

Singh also wrote a letter to Yogi Adityanath, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, telling him "how uncourteous the staffer was," reported the National Herald.

Santosh says that after the letter he wrote went viral, a call apologizing for the behavior came from the helpline again on Friday evening.

"But to date, I did not get medicine nor has any doctor called me. I have some doctor friends who are treating me," he told the National Herald.

The COVID situation has continued to get worse in India in recent months. Earlier the same week, a veteran journalist died in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh while tweeting for help after hospitals refused to admit him.

According to the Hindustan Times, COVID helpline's data across India, from Delhi, Mumbai, Lucknow, and Chennai, show an increase of almost 400% to 1,000% in cases in the past week, but no increase in the number of volunteers, crumbling the helplines.

Covid India
Medical workers at a quarantine center for Covid-19 coronavirus infected patients at a banquet hall that was converted into an isolation center to handle the rising cases of infection on April 15, 2021, in New Delhi, India. Anindito Mukherjee/GETTY