Coronavirus: Indian hospital creates separate wards for Muslim and Hindu patients

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A hospital in the Indian state of Gujarat has segregated its coronavirus patients into different wards according to their faiths, a national newspaper reported.

Ahmedabad Civil Hospital, where 1,200 beds have been set aside for COVID-19, created separate wards for Muslim and Hindu patients, according to The Indian Express newspaper.

The Medical Superintendent of the hospital Dr. Gunvant H Rathod said the decision to segregate the patients along religious lines was made as per a state government instruction.

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“Generally, there are separate wards for male and female patients. But here, we have made separate wards for Hindu and Muslim patients,” Dr. Rathod said. On being asked the reason for such a segregation, Dr. Rathod said, “It is a decision of the government and you can ask them.”

However, the Deputy Chief Minister and Health Minister of the state, Nitin Patel, denied any knowledge of it.

“I am not aware of such a decision (on wards as per faith). Generally, there are separate wards for males and females. I will enquire about it,” he said.

However, a patient was quoted saying to The Indian Express, “On Sunday night, the names of 28 men admitted in the first ward (A-4) were called out. We were then shifted to another ward (C-4). While we were not told why we were being shifted, all the names that were called out belonged to one community. We spoke to one staff member in our ward today and he said this had been done for ‘the comfort of both communities’.”

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The US Committee on International Religious Freedom, a congressional panel, said in a tweet that it was “concerned with reports of Hindu and Muslim patients separated into separate hospital wards in Gujarat”.

“Such actions only help to further increase ongoing stigmatization of Muslims in India and exacerbate false rumors of Muslims spreading COVID-19,” the body said.

Gujarat is the home state of India’s prime minister of Narendra Modi and is ruled by his Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party. The state witnessed some of the bloodiest religious riots in India’s modern history in 2002, when Modi was the state’s chief minister.

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