Coronavirus: Taxi driver who has taken patients to hospital for free throughout pandemic receives standing ovation from medics

Altruistic cabbie appears moved to tears by show of gratitude

Andy Gregory
Sunday 19 April 2020 19:27 BST
Medics surprised a taxi driver in Madrid who had been taking staff and patients free lifts during the coronavirus pandemic
Medics surprised a taxi driver in Madrid who had been taking staff and patients free lifts during the coronavirus pandemic

Health care workers have surprised a taxi driver with a standing ovation and an envelope of money to thank him for routinely ferrying coronavirus patients to receive medical treatment without charging them.

The altruistic driver was lured to a health centre in Madrid under the impression that he was picking up a patient.

He was greeted with rapturous applause from dozens of medics lined up just inside the entrance to the Ramon y Cajal health centre in Alcorcon.

The driver, who appears to be moved to tears by the show of gratitude, was also handed test results showing he had not contracted Covid-19, according to El Pais.

The Spanish taxi union shared footage to social media on Saturday, where it has been viewed more than four million times.

Among those who shared it was the deputy mayor of Alcorcon city council, Jesus Santos Gimeno, who wrote: “In solidarity, we will get out of this.”

Within the first few days of lockdown measures being introduced in Spain, the profits of taxi companies had already dropped by some 80 per cent, according to local media.

Despite the drastic drop in income, the Professional Taxi Federation of Madrid estimates that drivers in the area had given out at least 75,000 free lifts during the first month of lockdown, taking patients from their homes to as many as 300 different health centres.

Covid-19 has already claimed more than 20,000 lives in Spain.

On Saturday, prime minister Pedro Sanchez announced he would seek a two-week extension to the lockdown measures, which are due to expire in the coming days.

While Spain is so far thought to be one of the worst-hit countries in the world, the number of new cases and fatalities appears to be slowing.

On Sunday, the country recorded its lowest daily death toll since 22 March, a week after tentatively relaxing stringent lockdown rules to allow some non-essential workers to return to construction and manufacturing jobs.

Speaking on Saturday, Mr Sanchez also conceded to widespread calls to relax rules which had kept most children confined to their homes for five weeks.

He announced children would be granted "a small relief" from the strictest such measures in Europe, and is expected to allow under-12s outside for 30 minutes under supervision as of 27 April.

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