The Wider Image: Last doctor standing: Pandemic pushes Indian hospital to the brink
Guards armed with rifles escort Dr. Kumar Gaurav as he makes the rounds at his hospital on the banks of the Ganges River. The guards are there to protect him from the relatives of patients, including those suffering from COVID-19. The relatives keep barging into the wards, even the ICU, to stroke and feed their loved ones, often without wearing even the flimsiest of masks as barriers against the novel coronavirus. It's the monsoon season, and the humidity is reaching unbearable levels. But the few air conditioners in the hospital aren't working, and some relatives use hand fans to keep their loved ones cool in wards dirty with garbage and discarded protective equipment. It wasn't supposed to be like this for Kumar. Nine years ago, the 42-year-old psychiatrist moved his family back to his hometown for a quieter life and better pay after three years in the Indian capital, New Delhi. He accepted a job as a medical professor and consultant psychiatrist at the 900-bed Jawahar Lal Nehru Medical College and Hospital, named after India's first prime minister. Life was uneventful but rewarding, spent teaching classes and visiting his psychiatry patients. Now, with some doctors struck down by the coronavirus and others refusing to work, he has been named the top official at the hospital, despite being one of its most junior consultants ? and suffering from diabetes and hypertension, two risk factors for severe COVID-19. But he says he felt compelled to volunteer for the job. "A lot of my colleagues refused," he says. "I had to take up the responsibility." In April, as the pandemic struck here in the eastern state of Bihar, the hospital was selected as one of just four COVID-dedicated hospitals for a population of 100 million people ? at least in theory. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY SEARCH "BHAGALPUR HOSPITAL COVID-19" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.