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Indian businessman converts office into Covid-19 ward as public hospitals struggle to cope with patient numbers

«The cost of treatment at a private hospital was huge. How could poor people afford such treatment?» Mr Shaikh , a property developer, told AFP

SURAT, INDIA (AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE) – An Indian businessman who recovered from coronavirus has converted his office into an 85-bed facility to provide free treatment for the poor.

The coronavirus epidemic is still raging in the world’s second-most populous nation, with the number of infections passing 1.5 million on Wednesday (July 29), and almost 35,000 deaths.

With public hospitals struggling to cope, Mr Kadar Shaikh spent 20 days in a private clinic last month in the western city of Surat – and he was horrified by the bill.

«The cost of treatment at a private hospital was huge. How could poor people afford such treatment?» Mr Shaikh , a property developer, told AFP.

«So I decided to do something and contribute in the fight against the deadly virus.»

Once back on his feet, Mr Shaikh secured approval from local authorities to convert his 30,000 sq ft (2,800 sq m) office premises.

The government provides and pays for the staff, medical equipment and medicine, while Mr Shaikh bought the beds and bears the cost of bed linen and electricity.

Anyone can be admitted, he said, regardless of «caste, creed or religion».

India has been struggling with a shortage of doctors and healthcare workers as the number of Covid-19 cases continues to post record daily highs.

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