Aussie couple in India feels helpless, trapped and afraid
A Melbourne couple stranded in India say they fear for their safety after a relative died of COVID-19 while on a waiting list for a ventilator.
Khem Joshi, 55, travelled to western India in January with his wife Vibha, 54, to attend his father's funeral after he died of a cardiac arrest.
They had hoped to stay for a shorter period but were refused permission by the Australian government to apply for a travel exemption for less than three months.
Now with the virus ravaging the country, the couple is trapped in their family apartment in Udaipur with no clue when they'll return home.
"Our apartment is on the main road and every half an hour we hear an ambulance siren, which scares us most," Mr Joshi, an accountant from Melbourne's southeastern suburb of Narre Warren South, said.
"People are very scared and not coming out, even though they want to help others but (are) not able to do so."
Mr Joshi said close relatives and friends had contracted COVID-19 but it was all too much for one family member with the virus claiming his life, despite him initially testing negative.
"His health was deteriorating and being a small town, a doctor referred him to the city hospital in Udaipur," he said.
After this the family member he continued to experience fever symptoms.
"He was on oxygen while (he) came in (an) ambulance but city hospital doctors advised that he should be on a ventilator.
"Our relatives contacted approximately 10 government and private hospitals to check if ventilator is available in any of the hospitals but unfortunately it wasn't. He was put on a waiting list.
After one became available he died while being transported to the hospital.
"It was very unfortunate and the ventilator was available a couple of hours before we could have saved his life," Mr Joshi said. "He was just 37 years old and left his wife and 12-year-old daughter behind."
He said his older brother in Mumbai, who also caught the virus, was one of the luckier few to find a hospital bed and was now recovering at home.
Meanwhile, Mr Joshi and his wife, who are among 8000 Australians stuck in India, said the Australian government's suspension on flights was "drastic" and had left them feeling helpless.
"It seems (the) Australian government didn't trust their own medical health system and can't arrange/manage the quarantine facility."
But they continued to hold out hope they could fly home soon and be reunited with their 21-year-old son who was extremely worried.
"If something will happen (we) don't know whom to call," Mr Joshi said, adding no Australian official had been in contact.
"Even no beds in hospital, no oxygen, no ventilators as they all are overutilised."
Originally published as Melbourne couple in India feels helpless, trapped and afraid