In compliance with the government advisory to limit the movement for containing the spread of COVID-19 in the country, ride-sharing platforms Ola and Uber suspended their services in many cities in March. However, the app-based taxi service providers are resuming operations with emergency based services. Accessible in select cities only, this new service will facilitate riders to book a ride to the hospital in case of an emergency.
In collaboration with the government of Haryana, Ola is enabling emergency medical trips on its platform. This new category within the app has been designed to provide convenient, reliable and safe transport to riders who need to access a hospital for medical purposes. This service will be for medical trips that are non-COVID and do not require an ambulance. For this, OLA has identified over 100 hospitals, which have been mapped on its app. For the same, Ola claims to have a dedicated network of cars that are equipped with masks and sanitizers and will be operated by specially trained drivers.
Anand Subramanian, Spokesperson and Head of Communications, Ola, said, "Trips to hospitals for medical urgencies are unavoidable, even in the current times. With Ola Emergency, we are able to facilitate trips to and from hospitals across the city through the Ola app. We are grateful to the Haryana Government for the opportunity to collaborate in serving the citizens. With over 100+ Hospitals in the city mapped, 'Ola Emergency' will be available 24x7 and will provide citizens with a reliable, convenient and safe transport solution for medical trips that do not require an ambulance."
The 'Ola Emergency' in Gurugram came closely after Bengaluru, Vizag, Bhubaneshwar, Nashik and Varanasi, and the service is slated to soon launch in other major cities.
On the other hand, rival Uber has launched a new feature 'Uber Essentials' that will facilitate essential travel for residents of Mumbai to start with. For this, Uber is partnering with the city's traffic police and has also identified a select fleet of vehicles for pick-up and drop from and/or to city hospitals. Uber says that all drivers have been issued curfew passes by local law enforcement authorities to ensure seamless movement to medical facilities.
Prabhjeet Singh, Director-Operations and Head of Cities, Uber India & South Asia, says, "In conformity with government guidelines, we urge people to stay safe and discourage non-essential travel. Through Uber Essential, we are selectively offering rides for essential services to cater to crucial medical travel requirements in Mumbai. Amidst the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, we are leveraging our technology and network of driver-partners to enable citizens to access essential medical services, while simultaneously also helping authorities contain the spread of COVID-19.'' In the coming days, Uber plans to extend this service to additional cities across India.
In an attempt to stem the spread of novel coronavirus across the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has extended the nationwide lockdown to May 3, 2020. Currently, India has reported 10,363 positive cases of COVID-19, according the latest data issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. This tally includes, 8,988 active novel coronavirus cases, 339 deaths, 1,035 cured/discharged and 1 migrated.