COVID: Gardener takes swabs, teaches people ‘self-testing’ in MP govt hospital

The state has been recording single-day spike in cases for the past 11 days with Monday’s daily infections hovering above 6,000

Halke Ram, a gardener at Sanchi Government Hospital telling visitors on how to take a swab test. Photo: Screenshot

People turning up for COVID test at the Sanchi Government Hospital were in for a surprise when they were directed to the health facility’s gardener for the collection of swabs.

In videos shared by on social media, Halke Ram, the hospital’s gardener is seen collecting samples from people who came to be tested for the infection and instructing them how to perform a “self COVID test”. People were seen collecting their swab samples under the guidance of Halke Ram.

Ironically, Sanchi is the constituency of state health minister Dr Prabhuram Chaudhary, who is busy with his campaign ahead of the bypolls in Damoh.

When questioned, Halke Ram said he was entrusted with the responsibility as everyone else in the hospital had been taken ill by the virus.


“I am a gardener. Also, I’m not a permanent employee of the hospital, but I am collecting samples because all other at the hospital have been infected,” Halke Ram said.

In her defence, Block Medical Officer Rajshiri Tidke, who is in charge of the hospital, said there was no other way out than giving the responsibility to Halke Ram as everyone else in the hospital was already incapacitated by the infection. She, however, said that Halke Ram has been trained in collecting swabs.

“What can we do? The staff has got infected but work has to go on and therefore as an emergency alternative, we have trained several people including the gardener to collect samples,” she was quoted as saying.

The shocker comes at a time when the state, one of the worst-affected in the country, is clocking in an upwards of 4,000 daily cases. The state reported 6,489 fresh infections on Monday, marking the seventh day in a row when daily infections have hovered above the 4,000-mark. Monday was also the 11th consecutive day when the state recorded a daily spike in fresh infections. In the past few days, videos of patients dying before reaching hospitals have been doing the rounds on social media.