A driver of the 108 ambulance service has been arrested for allegedly raping a young woman, a COVID-19 patient, while on her way to the hospital in Kerala's Pathanamthitta, about 100km north of capital Thiruvananthapuram, the police said.
According to officials at the Pandalam police station, the incident happened late Saturday night when the accused was taking two patients - an elderly woman and the 19-year-old rape survivor - to different hospitals in the ambulance, a complaint in the matter stated.
First, the elderly woman was dropped off by the driver after which the 19-year-old woman was to be taken to the hospital in Pandalam. "Instead, the ambulance driver diverted the vehicle towards an empty ground and raped the young woman, the complaint stated according to the police.
The driver, 25-year-old Nowfal, has been removed from the 108 ambulance service.
Further probe in the matter is underway, the Pathanamthitta police said.
Expressing shock over the incident, Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja has told the police to take strict action against the accused.
Cases of sexual assault on COVID-19 patients have been reported from across the country. In Delhi, in July, two people were arrested for allegedly raping a teenage COVID-19 patient at a Covid Care Centre.
Kerala, the first state in the country to record a case of coronavirus, is battling a second wave of COVID-19 infections. According to government estimates, the daily Covid count could rise to as many as 10,000 cases.
On Saturday, Kerala recorded 2,655 new coronavirus cases – the highest spike in single day Covid case count – and 2,111 recoveries. The state now has a total of almost 63,000 cases.
It has ramped up its testing to 40,162 samples in 24 hours.