Indian Journalist Dies Tweeting For Help After Hospitals Refuse to Admit Him

Vinay Srivastava, a 65-year-old journalist from Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India, died after being denied medical care for severe COVID-like symptoms. He took to Twitter in his final two days to beg for help from various hospitals and doctors.

As per Srivastava's tweet on Friday, his oxygen level dropped to 52, which is 43 points below the 95 that is considered 'normal' and significantly lower than 88, which is considered 'alarming'.

In his tweet translated from Hindi, he said: "Doctors and hospitals in your state have all become autocratic: I am 65-years-old, along with this, I have spondylitis due to which my oxygen level has dropped to 52 and no hospital lab and doctors are picking up the phone. " He addressed the tweet to Yogi Adityanath, Chief Minister of the state of Uttar Pradesh.

#CMYogiAdityanath आपके राज्ये में डॉक्टर अस्पताल और पाठलाभः सब निरंकुश हो गए है मैं 65 की आयु का हु इसके साथ मुझे स्पोंतलिटेस्ट भी है जिसकी वजह से मेरे ऑक्सीजन घाट के 52 हो गया है और कोई भी हॉस्पिटल लैब एवं डॉ फ़ोन नही उठा रहे

— Vinay Srivastava (@VinaySr18286715) April 16, 2021

Srivastava's son, Harshit, desperately searched for a hospital bed for his father and waited hours outside the Chief Medical Officer's (CMO) Office for a mandatory letter that hospitals demand before admitting Covid patients, according to ThePrint. He was turned away from three separate hospitals.

"We ran from pillar to post, but could not get an oxygen cylinder for him," Harshit told ThePrint. "A relative lent us his own cylinder. I went to get it refilled at midnight. There was a long queue for that too, I had to fight with others to save my father."

"His sample was collected Saturday morning, but we will get the results (of the RT-PCR test to confirm COVID) only after three days. No hospital is willing to admit him without a COVID positive report, even though he has all the symptoms of the disease," he said.

On Saturday, Srivastava tweeted that his oxygen level has dropped further to as low as 31 and asked: "When someone will help me."

Harshit arrived at the CMO's office requesting the security personnel on duty to let him in and speak to somebody, but in vain, according to ThePrint. "With trembling fingers, he kept calling hospital helpline numbers and other senior officials in the hope of getting some relief for his father."

My oxygen is 31 when some will help me

— Vinay Srivastava (@VinaySr18286715) April 17, 2021

On Saturday, Srivastava died.

"My father has been a journalist for the past 30 years. He always helped people throughout his career. Spent all his earnings helping those in distress during the pandemic. But when he is battling for his life, there is no help for him," a teary-eyed Harshit had told ThePrint outside the CMO's office.

Dr. Surya Pratap Singh, an Indian Administrative Officer from Lucknow, shared a picture of Srivastava's body covered with a bedsheet surrounded by his mourning family. Along with it, Singh wrote, "The plea of journalist Vinay Srivastava was not heard while he was alive, but even after his death, his family kept waiting for the ambulance."

"Looking at the example of image/symbol of the government 'chaos,' my eyes were filled with tears," Singh added.

पत्रकार विनय श्रीवास्तव की गुहार जीते जी तो नहीं सुनी गयी, मरने के बाद भी उनका परिवार एंबुलेंस का इंतज़ार करता रह गया।

सरकारी ‘अव्यवस्था’ की प्रतीक का नमूना देख आँखें भर आयी। pic.twitter.com/o7ROPa5AUq

— Surya Pratap Singh IAS Rtd. (@suryapsingh_IAS) April 17, 2021

Several COVID hospitals refused to admit anyone without a reference letter from the CMO, despite having tested positive for Covid, confirmed ThePrint. This has been the norm since a letter to this effect was issued by the District Magistrate (DM) last year in April, which ThePrint has accessed.

Since the news of Srivastava's death went viral, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath directed hospitals to also admit suspected COVID patients.

COVID-19 cases are spiraling out of control in India, with 234,692 new coronavirus cases recorded on Saturday, April 17 alone, according to health ministry data, bringing the nationwide tally of infections to 14.5 million, second only to the United States.

The latest wave has already overwhelmed hospitals. The capital city of Delhi converted its hotels into COVID-19 Treatment centers last week.

Indian Journalist
A man wearing PPE suit (personal Protection Equipment) waits to transfer the body of his relative who died of the Covid-19 coronavirus infection from an ambulance amid burning pyres of other covid deaths at a crematorium on April 17, 2021 in New Delhi, India. Covid-19 cases are spiraling out of control in India, with over 200,000 new coronavirus cases on recorded on Thursday alone, according to health ministry data, bringing the nationwide tally of infections to 13.9 million. The latest wave has already overwhelmed hospitals. GETTY/Anindito Mukherjee