Nazim Ahmed, a retired banker residing in the capital's Mohakhali DOHS, was mired in consternation last week when he realised his daughter was showing major COVID-19 symptoms: fever, dry cough, fatigue, sore throat and body ache.
He felt an exigency of getting each member of his household tested as soon as possible for the highly contagious pathogen.
The main obstacle to doing so was taking them to test centres or hospitals as he had sent his chauffeur on leave with pay in the last week of March, just before the government announced countrywide shutdown to flatten the spread on coronavirus.
But he breathed a sigh of relief when he came to know about OBHAI Sheba, dedicatedly working on commuting healthcare workers and patients to hospitals or healthcare centres amidst the current coronavirus blitzkrieg.
"I have used it thrice in the last few days. They are providing wonderful service at a time when people are struggling to get a safe mode of transport to risky places like hospitals during the crisis," Ahmed told The Daily Star yesterday.
Besides, the most unique aspect of the service is that it takes the customers from their homes to hospitals and waits, he added.
Launched in late April by ridesharing service OBHAI, the emergency transport service, as part of the country's fight against coronavirus, aims to cater to customers who are failing to get timely medical treatment due to a lack of safe means of transportation.
Not only ordinary people like Ahmed, but OBHAI Sheba has also particularly gone on to win the hearts of key persons on the frontline: doctors, nurses and other health workers.
"At the beginning, there was a severe lack of transportation. When we started availing the service from OBHAI Sheba, it helped me a lot," Tishadur Bappy, a medical officer of Dhaka Medical College Hospital, told The Daily Star yesterday.
He was particularly worried over the safe commute of his wife, a doctor at BIRDEM General Hospital, from his Mirpur residence. Travelling to and fro every day was getting tough for them, and on Eid day they availed the service.
"OBHAI's safety precautions were good and the drivers were also smart. Overall, their service is good," said Nuzhat Zohra, who is doing her internship at the Combined Military Hospital.
She used the platform several times to commute to the hospital from her house in the capital's Banasree.
The platform has undertaken a host of safety measures to ensure the protection of drivers and passengers from the virus.
Each of their vehicles got plexiglass installed between the driver and passenger to shield both from infectious droplets from breathing, sneezes or coughs.
Every OBHAI vehicle driver has to visit an area-based OBHAI Hub to examine their health condition before starting their daily ride. Only healthy drivers are assigned for rides and get a protection package that includes a mask, tissue and hand sanitiser.
Before the ride, the driver wears personal protective equipment, a mask and gloves and throughout the ride they are to clean their hands often with the hand sanitiser.
Tissue and hand sanitiser are provided to the passenger in the vehicle as well.
Drivers dispose of their used tissue, mask and gloves after every ride and use bleach-based solutions to clean the entire vehicle.
The platform introduced cashless payment systems through mobile wallets such as bKash and Nagad and point of sale machines so that passengers and riders can maintain social distancing even after the ride.
Obhai Sheba is currently available in Dhaka and Chattogram from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm.
Passengers can book a ride on the emergency vehicle service using the OBHAI app, OBHAI's Facebook and Instagram pages or calling the OBHAI Call Centre at 16633 and on WhatsApp at 01313-037546.
The booking has to be made at least one hour to 24 hours before availing the ride.
"As we have been going through such a critical phase globally, we have really got to acknowledge the importance of healthcare facilities of our country," Syed Ashraful Karim Sarjil, head of OBHAI (car) operations.
Founded in 2018, ridesharing start-up OBHAI has four modes of transport -- cars, compressed natural gas-run three-wheeler auto-rickshaws and motorcycles, including female-driven ones for female passengers.
Currently operating across 23 cities including Dhaka, Chattogram, Khulna, Jashore and Barisal, the service is complemented by a call centre (16633) running 24/7.