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An Uber driver in New York died from coronavirus after picking up a sick passenger

Published Mar 26th, 2020 7:07PM EDT
Coronavirus impact
Image: Seth Wenig/AP/Shutterstock

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  • According to Johns Hopkins University, there have been over 80,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the US to-date, as well as more than 1,000 deaths. 
  • Among those who died from the COVID-19 coronavirus is Anil Subba, an Uber driver from Nepal who was in his 40s and developed symptoms of the virus after picking up a sick passenger.
  • New York City has become something of an epicenter of the virus in the US, with more confirmed cases there than anywhere else in the country. The virus has also been spreading faster there than anywhere else.
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

An Uber driver from Nepal who was in his 40s and lived in the New York City borough of Queens has reportedly died from the coronavirus after picking up a sick passenger.

What happened to Anil Subba, who left behind a wife and three children, is reflective of the insecurity and lack of benefits like health insurance that gig workers face — particularly those who drive for rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft. In Subba’s case, he picked up a rider at JFK airport in early March who turned out to be sick. He soon developed coronavirus symptoms and checked himself into the hospital some two weeks ago.

He had to be hooked up to a ventilator after his condition deteriorated. Earlier this week, he passed away. His cousin, Munindra Nembang, told The New York Post that Subba was the only one in his family who was working, and while things were fine when he was supporting them, “It is very hard for his family to survive now.”

According to Nembang, he knows around half a dozen fellow immigrants from Nepal (“most of them Uber drivers”) who’ve also developed symptoms of the coronavirus.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi released the following statement about Subba’s death: “I’m deeply saddened by this news. Our hearts go out to Anil’s loved ones and to everyone suffering during this unprecedented time.”

As the coronavirus crisis has continued unabated, both Uber and its chief rival Lyft have taken steps that include canceling carpool features, with Uber now also offering drivers as much as two weeks’ worth of financial assistance should they be forced to quarantine themselves — or even if they get diagnosed with the virus. “The circumstances surrounding COVID-19 are changing rapidly and we expect they will continue to do so over the coming weeks and months ahead,” Uber senior vice president Andrew Macdonald wrote in a company blog post earlier this month. “To ensure we are responsive to this reality, this policy is effective until April 6, 2020, at which time we will reassess the situation and release a go-forward policy.”

Uber is also working with drivers to distribute cleaning supplies so they can disinfect their cars to keep them safe, though the company acknowledges “supplies are very limited” for now.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.