FROM March 20 to March 26, when he experienced worsening symptoms, family members and friends of Mohamed Abul Hossain called emergency services various times but managed to receive no help.
Mohammed Abul Hossain, a resident in the Madrid neighbourhood of Lavapies, passed away in his home on March 26 after calling emergency services on a daily basis for approximately a week to ask for help with the coronavirus.
Hossain, who also suffered from previous cardiovascular pathologies, was beginning to show increasingly severe respiratory symptoms typical of Covid-19 but neither him nor his family was able to receive an answer from medical services until it was too late. Hossain was 67 years of age and a Bangladeshi national who managed an Indian restaurant in Lavapies.
According to El Diario, Hossain’s wife and son began asking for medical assistance on March 20, since that day they made various calls to Madrid’s coronavirus hotline, 112 emergency service and to their personal medical centre.
Due to their despair at not having received any answers, the family asked for help from those who were close to them: their nephew, residents of the Lavapies neighbourhood and a leader of the Bangladeshi community in Madrid who all tried to contact health services for almost a week with no success. Hours before his death, his nephew sent a taxi to transfer him to a health centre nearby since his relatives had no way of doing this. When the driver saw the condition that the patient was in, he refused to accept the journey.
During the early hours of March 26, after 112 finally confirmed that a mobile Intensive Care Unit would come to the house to attend to Hossain, he sadly passed away. The death certificate outlined his cause of death to be cardiorespiratory failures “possibly” caused by Covid-19. That same day his wife was transferred to the Fundacion Jimenez Diaz University hospital, where she has been hospitalised for a week due to pneumonia also caused by the virus.
According to Mohammad Fazle Elahi, the president of the Madrid organisation called Valiente Bangla, he rang up the emergency service for almost a week until the day of Hossain’s death but the operators of the service would not help him as they insisted that they must speak to the patient himself. Elahi argues that he “insisted that [Hossain] barely spoke Spanish, but it did not matter.”
Elahi received a call from Hossain on March 20, when his symptoms were still not that severe, asking for help to communicate with medical services as they did not understand him. “The first time I called, it still wasn’t that bad. [The operators] asked me about his fever, and I didn’t know because they did not have a thermometer.
“They told me we had to know,” Elahi explains. His phone records can confirm that he contacted 900 102 112 on March 20 around four times, one of these times was for a half-an-hour phone call.
Valiente Bangla denounces the ‘language barrier’ that affected the lack of health care offered to the deceased and fear that this lack of understanding could potentially harm immigrants in Spain who do not know the language.
Although the 900 102 112 number does not have an interpretation service, 112 does have translators in up to 80 different languages. The official information offered by the Ministry of Health and the Community of Madrid has not been translated into any different languages. However, the testimony of the people who also called emergency services point out that the delay in assistance was also linked to the over-saturation of the health system amidst the coronavirus epidemic.