A suspect facing attempt to murder charges and being treated for Covid-19 at Victoria Hospital used the disease as a tool to escape on Wednesday morning by threatening to infect officials who tried to catch him. As many as 18 policemen, his primary and secondary contacts, are already under quarantine.
According to the staff, the incident occurred around 10.20 am at the Emergency and Trauma Care Centre, when the 30-year-old suspect was reportedly being taken for a routine X-ray.
“The mornings are usually extremely busy with all sorts of activities taking place such as cleaning, medication of Covid-19 patients and patients being discharged. In the confusion, the prisoner jumped into an open elevator and headed to the ground level,” explained Dr Asima Banu, nodal officer, Trauma Care Centre.
At the ground floor, the prisoner came upon two security guards. One of them was security supervisor Ilyaz, 36, who had previously stopped a Covid-19 patient from Shivajinagar from escaping on May 11.
According to Dr C R Jayanthi, Dean, Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute (BMCRI), the prisoner warned the guards that he was Covid-positive. He then spat on them. Both guards were wearing PPE kits.
After physically lashing out at them, the convict reportedly broke through and sprinted towards the secondary entry gate leading to the Tipu Sultan Summer Palace. A third guard there tried to stop him but failed.
18 km covered
After his escape, the suspect is said to have made his way to a relative’s home at KG Halli, some 9.5 km away. However, the police said his family, being primary contacts, had been relocated to quarantine centres and that the house had been closed.
The suspect was eventually caught at 6.15 pm while loitering near a bar near Pushpanjalli Theatre in RT Nagar, nearly 9 km away. In all, the suspect had travelled some 18 km in his bid to escape.
The police and BBMP health officials returned the patient to the Emergency and Trauma Care Centre later on Wednesday. He has been booked under Section 224 of the Indian Penal Code and the NDMA Act.
The suspect, a cook in Shivajinagar, had originally been detained by DJ Halli police on charges of attempted murder on Monday. The police said he was suspected to have stabbed a person from Bihar during an argument.
He tested Covid-19 positive on Tuesday. Since then, 20 police personnel at the station have been quarantined as suspected Covid cases.
DCP (South) Rohini Katoch Sepat said the patient had gone to visit his wife and other family members.
According to hospital records, the earlier incident in May had prompted Dr Balaji Pai, Special Officer, Trauma Care Centre, to write to the BMCRI and to VV Puram Police, asking for more security at the Covid ward, considering “antisocial elements” had been admitted to the ward as patients. However, no security personnel were dispatched, sources said.