As the medical community continues to fight the novel coronavirus in India another hostility emerged from the society where the residents are attacking the health care workers. On Wednesday Madhya Pradesh healthcare workers and civic officials were attacked by a mob of angry locals in Indore, as they visited the area to screen residents for signs of novel coronavirus infection.
Two women doctors were injured in the attack and had to be rescued by police. The shocking attack came two days after locals from the Ranipura area of the city allegedly spat at officials and abused them during screening procedures. In a shocking video of the attack, two healthcare workers dressed in light blue PPE (personal protective equipment) suits can be seen running from a small group of locals who are throwing stones and what appears to be a large piece of plastic at them.
As the minute-long video plays out, the small group of locals becomes a mob of around 100 angry residents shouting abuses, throwing sticks and stones and chasing them down the narrow lane.
At least two confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection have been reported from the Taat Patti Bakhal of Indore, one of two COVID-19 hotspots in the city, and as many as 54 families have been isolated amid heavy resistance from locals.
Indore has 76 per cent of all coronavirus reported from Madhya Pradesh so far. Multiple reports of attacks on healthcare workers have emerged from across the nation.
On March 26, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan taking note of reports relating to manhandling of doctors and nurses, urged the public to not “demoralize our Coronawarriors”.
Taking to Twitter, Dr Harsh Vardhan wrote, “Fighting this battle against coronavirus is our national responsibility and the doctors, nurses and paramedics are our warriors but some people are creating an atmosphere of discrimination and fear psychosis against them.”
“Please don’t break the morale of our Coronawarriors. Don’t forget that this fight is a ritual,” he added.
Karnataka government has warned strict penal action against landlords or house-owners under provisions of law for forcing doctors, paramedical staff and healthcare professionals to vacate their rented residences citing COVID-19 spread through them as the reason.
Stating that lot of complaints have been received in this regard, an order issued by Additional Chief Secretary Health and Family Welfare department Jawaid Akhtar said such behaviour amounted to obstructing public servant in discharging their duties.
Reports of attacks on doctors and medical staff have also come in from Surat in Gujarat. News agency AFP quoted Sanjibani Panigrahi as saying she had been accosted while returning home after treating COVID-19 patients.
She said neighbours blocked her at the entrance to her apartment building and threatened “consequences” if she continued to work.
“These are the same people who have happily interacted with me (in the past). Whenever they’ve faced a problem, I’ve helped them out,” the 36-year-old told AFP, adding, “There is a sense of fear among people. I do understand. But it’s like I suddenly became an untouchable”.
In Delhi’s prestigious AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences), doctors have appealed for help after health workers were evicted from their homes by panicked landlords and housing societies.
On Wednesday Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said those treating COVID-19 patients were “no less than soldiers protecting the country”. The Delhi government has announced Rs 1 crore will be given to families of healthcare workers who died while dealing with coronavirus cases.
The central government had declared a medical cover of Rs 50 crore for those in the forefront of the fight against the deadly virus. The medical insurance cover was a part of the Rs 1.75 lakh crore package announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.